Originally published in Willow Springs 68

From the author

Notes on Two Poems

Both “Dog” and “Halcion” were, formally, a departure for me. For a long time my poems seemed to need at least a page and a half for me to figure anything out, for the poem to feel complete in some way, so it was an interesting feeling, a kind of departure, when I began writing shorter poems. “Dog” is part of a longer elegiac sequence written for my older brother after his suicide. Mainly it’s a poem that suggests our shadows are always with us. That we can tame grief and struggle enough to be house trained though they are still wild animals. “Halcion” was written after my first experience taking the drug of the same name. I took it before having my wisdom teeth removed. I’m terrified of the dentist and all things medical. Halcion took care of that fear! It’s a wonder drug. I love it. The poem tries to describe my feelings when I was on it.

Notes on Reading

For a writer, reading is one of the most important experiences that can affect their work. Reading is also a radical act. It’s humanizing in nature. It teaches us, in a natural and very sincere way, about compassion and understanding, about true empathy. Some important books for me, as of late, are Lucia Perillo’s “Inseminating the Elephant,” Diane Wakoski’s “The Butcher’s Apron,” Gary Jackson’s “Missing You, Metropolis,” and Dorothea Lasky’s “Black Life.” Each of these poets are very different from each other but they all have something important in common and that is a wildness of imagination. Each of them raises their freak-flags high which makes me feel brave, in turn,
when I sit down and write.

About Matthew Dickman

Matthew Dickman is the author of All-American Poem (American Poetry Review/ Copper Canyon Press, 2008). The recipient of The Honickman First Book Prize, the May Sarton Award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Kate Tufts Discovery Award from Claremont College, and the 2009 Oregon Book Award from Literary Arts of Oregon. His poems are forthcoming or have appeared in Tin House Magazine, McSweeny’s, Ploughshares, The Believer, The London Review of Books, and The New Yorker among others. W.W. Norton & Co. will publish his second book in 2012. He lives and works in Portland, Oregon.