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Sunday February 26, 2017
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Matthew Thorburn

 

continued

But the architecture of the poems in Subject to Change is simply the space that encloses a writer completely engaged with some old romantic notions. Even though he knows a lot and can fill his poems with witty allusions to art and music and literature, what motivates this enormously talented young poet is a sense of the beautiful and a belief in its efficacy. It is fascinating to see someone who has obviously moved through many of the intellectual and creative trends of the new millennium arrive back at a place that seems almost nineteenth century.

In "Coda: Where the River Runs," the poem that ends this collection, Thorburn lists things that seize and grip his heart — "the light in light-brown eyes," "the cello's wavery rubato," "the lovers falling / into one another." And he keeps his list running almost to the end:

Where the river
runs, over the rocks. Where the black tern
hovers over the inland marshes
the light grinds down

to a dusky glow — quiet, quiet,
even if my heart
wallops in my chest
like a fish in a bucket,
and there's nothing
I can say to make it stop.


It is to relearn the importance of those moments that a teacher comes back to sit at the student's feet.

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