North American Titles

John Matthias - Who Was Cousin Alice? & Other Questions


John Matthias - Who Was Cousin Alice? & Other Questions

Paperback, 370pp, 9x6ins

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Who Was Cousin Alice? & Other Questions attempts to answer both the first question posed in the title about American poet John Matthias' early family memories, and then to raise and engage, in a series of memoirs and critical essays, a large number of "other questions." These range from an attempt to find some answers about his wife's British family in 'Kedging in "Kedging in Time",' an essay-memoir first published as an afterword to his long poem, Kedging, about the Adams and Young families during and after World War I, to memoirs inquiring into 'Poetry and Insomnia,' 'Poetry and Murder,' and the literary imaginations of 'Grand Old Dirty Old Men' — Yasunari Kawabata, Gabriel García Marquez, and Octavio Paz, among others—an examination of erotic writing of the old and ageing as a manifestation of "late style."  Specifically literary essays include considerations of W.H. Auden, Benjamin Britten, Roy Fisher, Paul Muldoon, John Berryman, Robert Hass, Robert Pinsky, Michael Anania, and 'British Poetry at Y2K.'  In this hybrid mix of genres — both very recent work and a selection of pieces culled from the last twenty-five years — Matthias has added a number of poems that enter into a dialogue with his essays and memoirs.


Guy Davenport has said that Matthias' prose "is written in a congenial and civilised style," and that while he "writes for a general audience that reads," his work, taken together, constitutes "a critical tour de force."

In 2010 Shearsman published Matthias's most recent book of poems, Trigons.  As Cousin Alice appeared, Salt also published a critical Companion to the Poetry of John Matthias edited by J.F. Doerr.


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