Matthew Minicucci is an award-winning author of three previous collections of poetry. His poems and essays have appeared in journals including APR, The Believer, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, and Southern Review. His work has garnered numerous awards including the Stafford/Hall Oregon Book Award and the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize, along with fellowships from organizations including the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Dartmouth College, the National Parks Service, and the James Merrill House, among others. He is currently an assistant professor in the Blount Scholars Program at the University of Alabama.
Photo Credit: Ryan Maurer
In his fourth poetry collection, Matthew Minicucci examines masculinity and gun violence as he brings to life the grammatical concept of the dual, a number that is neither singular nor plural, now lost in English but present in other languages both extant and ancient.
The poems’ forms fittingly include the elegy, palinode, and contrapuntal, which is both a single poem and two poems intertwined. They align contemporary moments with key texts from “western” literatures, including ancient Greek epic, in a way that helps us resee the aggression of young men; “the world kills kind boys,” Minicucci writes, and “we bury the bodies inside men.”
Minicucci recategorizes our idea of “West,” western canon, and the Old West and its bullets, next to modern-day landscapes in Utah, Oregon, Washington, California, and Hawai’i. Just as the settler imaginary gives us two ways to consider mythologies of the Old West—an empty landscape of promise or homelands encroached upon—so, too, does nostalgia. Whether memorializing a woodworking grandfather or poets Brigit Pegeen Kelly and James Longenbach, Dual notes that loss has a double vision. While weighty in subject, Dual’s poems make room for unexpected moments of lightness, such as when the speaker compares the complications of love to “reading the Iliad and realizing, sure, there’s anger, // but before that there’s just a lot of camping.”
The book argues, in the end, that there is an unalienable dual between the observer and the observed, the self and the self as confessed to another.
PRAISE FOR DUAL
Matthew Minicucci’s Dual questions the nature of signification and the fibers of linguistic-relational reality. He ponders, in form, content, in language acquisition’s exposed processes of how place and time bend into vivid collage, which morphs into its own complexity and nuance—the world of ancient mythology bending into personal history and into magic. Multiple crossings in single poems with various, pick-your-own avatars excite the possibilities of a reader’s expectation. No matter how much I explore in these pages, there remain countless countries yet to be seen. The texture of the language, the clarity of image, the sonic play causes me to ask, if there is text and non-text, how are these poems haunting me in all possible universes? —Rajiv Mohabir, author of Cutlish and Antiman
How tenderly, how avidly Matthew Minicucci twins for us life and death in this epic-inspired collection. With linguistic and literary resources that leave me breathless, Minicucci has created, in extraordinary poems of counterpoint, elegy, and autobiography, a dualism (a mirroring, a conjunction, a metronomic pairing) not binary so much as inclusively generative and devastating. I will be recommending this brilliant and inventive book for a very long time. —Kathy Fagan, author of Bad Hobby
116 pp., 7×9
ISBN 978-1-946724-67-0 (pbk)
ISBN 978-1-946724-68-7 (ebook)