Monday, June 30, 2014

Review of Kathleen Rooney's Robinson Alone

Check out my review of Robinson Alone at Iowa Review

"Robinson is finally only himself. Rooney’s Robinson, on the other hand, is an irreducible image, existing in poems that circle back on themselves, in letters he wrote but did not write (the fifteen centos based on Kees’s actual letters Rooney includes in the text), and in homage after homage to the man he is and is not, which Rooney herself admits is a strange aftereffect of those who come to the mystery of Weldon Kees—they can’t help writing about him—and now I, too, am caught in the cycle myself to add to poor Robinson’s misery."

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Great Grant News!!!

I am happy to announce that I am the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Grant.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review of House on Fire

Review of Susan Yount's new book at Cleaver Magazine.


House on Fire is rugged, self-aware, and raw; it champions those who take blows from all sides and come out swinging wild even when they have little hope of escape—maybe especially when they have little hope of escape. It’s great success is that it holds some portion of anger in reserve—avoiding the too-easy notion of mere acceptance—while still managing to find a way to move forward and make a life worth fighting for.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Micro-review of O, Democracy!

Kathleen Rooney’s novel, O, Democracy! tells the story of an idealist, a twenty-something working in the Chicago office of the Senior Senator of Illinois—an experience Rooney had first explored in her collection of essays, For You, For You I Am Trilling These Songs. Her protagonist may be an idealist but O, Democracy! is not really about idealism—at least not of the naïve or overly simple kind. The more knowledgeable, self-aware and dedicated her protagonist is the more tragic the story—but also the sweeter. This is clearly a love song to American democracy as it really is and as it could be but never quite is. The strength of the book resides in its lack of too-easy cynicism and also its avoidance of dogmatic ideological posturing. Its charm, however, belongs solely to Colleen Dugan—a self-defined do-gooder who is always coming up against the limits of her own vanity and the rampant sexism that both bolsters and knocks that vanity down. This character—like Rooney’s protagonist from her novel-in-poems Robinson Alone—sees great value in the effort of self-construction. It’s clearly one of the aspects that draws her to a life in politics, but it is also a constant source of conflict. Colleen likes her pretty dresses but so does the Chief of Staff, her antagonist and foil. He says that she was “an uppity bitch—quite the mouth. But I thought I loved her . . . for that.” Over the course of the book, Colleen worries over the nature of responsibility on a tiny scale and on a grand one, which becomes painfully acute when a certain illicit video comes into her possession. Colleen wishes to wield power, to have a real seat at the proverbial table of political power, but when she could easily destroy her boss’s opponent, she hesitates—the flash drive containing the evidence burning a hole in her purse: “I went from totally marginalized to I-get-to-decide-the-election in like fifteen minutes. In the background, slowly growing in importance, is the bid of the Junior Senator of Illinois for president—complicating and paralleling Colleen’s professional, ethical and personal dilemmas in surprising ways. Rooney’s book is a page-turner, a political thriller lacking nearly all of the clichés of the genre and instead giving the reader a complex look at the nature of active citizenship.
--Carlo Matos

Friday, June 6, 2014

Vamberto Freitas on RTP

Vamberto Freitas discusses his new book BorderCrossings 2 on Portuguese television station, RTP

Vamberto Freitas apresenta livro novo em Ponta Delgada (Vídeo)

At 7 minutes, I am mentioned--along with Stephen Rebello and Kale Soup for the Soul.

Upcoming Readings 2014

Poems While You Wait
Chicago SummerFest
Lincoln Park (Clark and Armitage)
June 29, 2014

Entre Margens e Memórias: Representações da Diáspora
University of Toronto, York University and Instituto Camões
November 12-13

Kale Soup for the Soul
Carr Reading Series
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
4:30 pm 
Featured readers include: Amy Sayre Baptista, Carlo Matos, Millicent Borges Accardi, PaulA Neves