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William Matthews: Criticism and Reviews

The Atlantic Monthly features an interview with William Matthews on his poetry, how he writes and what influences him in his art.

"A Reverie on What I Love: William Matthews and the Question of Style" is an extensive article on the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga site.

Poets Behaving Badly reviews William Matthews's son's memoir on his life and work.

Additional criticism and review of William Matthews's works can be found at your local public library.

The following reviews can be accessed online only by an individual who has a current library card through this address.

"Matthews Remembered."
In My Father's Footsteps, Sebastian Matthews.
Review by Donna Seaman.
Booklist, December 15, 2003 v100 i8 p721(1).

"William Matthews died unexpectedly in 1997 a day after his fifty-fifth birthday, and as poet Stanley Plumly writes in his perceptive and elegant introduction to Matthews's collected poems, 'It is still difficult, for many of his friends and admirers, to believe that he is gone.' With memories still sharp and the loss so fresh, Matthews's son Sebastian offers a stirring memoir, and he and Plumly present a magnificent selection of Matthews's virtuoso poems…"

Search Party: Collected Poems. Edited by Sebastian Matthews and Stanley Plumly.
Publishers Weekly, Nov 17, 2003 v250 i46 p59(1).

"With 11 books of verse in less than 30 years, Matthews (1942-1997) established a secure reputation as a witty and trustworthy commentator on a particular bandwidth of his generation…"

"After All."
Review by Jason Gray.
Prairie Schooner, Spring 2001 v75 i1 p189.

… "As a young poet, I felt I needed someone special to read and consider. Matthews's untimely death cut short the career of one of America's best poets. Certainly, there was the promise of wonderful writing coming from him over the next years. Matthews, who died last fall, was known for…"

After All: Last Poems.
Review by Stephen Whited.
Book, March 2001 p84.

"Matthews's death three years ago silenced an important poetic voice. Among the many observers of life's everyday miracles, he was one of the best, and making this collection available in a paperback reissue puts some of his remarkable poems back in circulation. His subjects range from…"

After All: Last Poems.
Review by Vince Gotera.
The North American Review, March 2001 v286 i2 p37.

"The first poem begins, 'What you see in his face in the last / photograph'...that's what you see in this book: the poet's face (or rather voice and craft) undimmed at death's threshold…"

After All: Last Poems.
Review by Barbara Hoffert.
Library Journal, April 1, 1999 v124 i6 p96(1).

"Since Matthews was one of the few contemporary poets who really knew how to make the vernacular sing, it's sad to think that these are his last poems. Fittingly, some of them are autumnal, but they range widely and brightly from…"

After All: Last Poems.
Booklist, March 15, 1999 v95 i14 p1295(1).

"In the last collection before his death, Matthews provides unrestrained imagery and diverse viewpoints on writing, language, travel, illness, and everyday life…"

After All: Last Poems.
Review by Barbara Hoffert.
Library Journal, September 15, 1998 v123 n15 p84(1).

"How sad to think that these are Matthews's last poems. Much honored for his numerous works (e.g., Time & Money won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1995), Matthews was one of the few contemporary poets who really knew how to make…"

After All: Last Poems.
Review by Donna Seaman.
Booklist, September 1, 1998 v95 n1 p58(1).

"Sadly, these are Matthews's last poems. And death does, indeed, strut through these aggressively compact compositions, each so perfectly crafted and unerringly aimed that…"

After All: Last Poems.
Publishers Weekly, July 27, 1998 v245 n30 p71(1).

"What sets Matthews apart from other pleasant, autobiographically inclined poets is that he doesn't emote by rote, but feels sharply and smartly, transforming his sometime trite scenarios into plain, careful insights…"

Time and Money.
Review by James Harms.
The Antioch Review, Fall 1996 v54 n4 p497(2).

"Matthews's poems have by now become so reliably and gorgeously sustaining, that it comes as a surprise to learn that the National Book Critics Circle Award, which he recently received for this, his tenth collection of poems, is his first major book prize. Perhaps we have grown used to the enormous demands this poet makes on language…"

Time and Money.
Review by Donna Seaman.
Booklist, July 1995 v91 n21 p1855(1).

"A provocative title, Time & Money: two things we have too little of, two elements of modern life we scramble for, complain about, equate, and squander. Matthews means to trigger these slightly bitter thoughts, but he goes far beyond our gut reactions in…"

Time and Money.
Publishers Weekly, May 29, 1995 v242 n22 p77(1).

"Things that don't last occupy Matthews in his 10th collection, coming after 1991's Selected Poems and Translations. These 40-plus poems, nearly all previously published, refract irony into…"

Selected Poems and Translations.
Publishers Weekly, May 11, 1992 v239 n22 p58(1).

"This collection brings together more than 100 poems, chosen from eight previously published volumes, and 40 translations from the French, Latin and Bulgarian. The prodigious output is uneven. Matthews's (Ruining the New Road) work is well crafted and rich in imagery, but tends to be …"

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