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The Unreasonable Slug

af Matt Cook

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1221,254,664 (4.17)4
"Not long ago one of Milwaukee poetry's young turks, Cook is now simply one of the city's major poets."--Milwaukee Magazine Perfect for people who "don't like poetry," Matt Cook's distinctive writing is Midwestern yet worldly, rooted yet bohemian. His close observations result in poems that resemble a series of punk fortune cookies, a kind of psychedelic horse sense--discovering musicality and humor in cultural information, in family, in writing itself. "The Modernist Bowling Alley" The forgotten soul who first separated egg whites. The homeless man wearing the Superman T-shirt. Their intentions were clearly understood, Except when they were unintentional and misunderstood. The Madagascar moth is no longer destroying the prized sweaters With anywhere near his previous curve of frequency. Shoddy construction is now the more critical threat. The modernist bowling alley will have the futuristic waiting area Where you can go and wait patiently for the future. You will see a clock on the wall that doesn't really look like a clock. You will distinctly remember having forgotten that before. Matt Cook is the author ofIn the Small of My Backyard andEavesdrop Soup. His work has been featured on NPR'sFresh Air andThe Writer's Almanac.… (mere)
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This is the second Matt Cook collection I've read. I originally encountered him via NPR's Writer's Almanac.

His poems are often a string of observations, like a stand-up comedy routine. They're frequently even funny, and all have straightforward language that promotes introspection without melodrama.

Some favorites were Asking Someone, Probably, A Professor I Know, When the Drunk Man Speaks Loudly, It Might Bring Happiness, The Unapproachable Butcher, and He Thought He Saw a Bug.

There are several poems about poets, usually ending with a sly punchline.

One tricky thing about poetry is never being entirely sure whether typos (there are a few) are proofing errors or an artistic choice. Cook doesn't really seem like that sort of artiste, although he does use italics gratuitously.

Some lines:

If the poet's handshake is too firm, he loses credibility.

Every leaf is not a poem; that needs to be reconsidered.
For my purposes, snowflakes are all pretty much the same.

My contribution to mankind has been small, but I've seen smaller.

An aluminum houseboat in the sky that had burned to the ground.

It's possible that death is a lot of fun.
Death might be very similar to a bowl of ice cream.
We shouldn't judge eternity until all the facts are in.
The eyes of the dead fish are far from encouraging.
But we shouldn't get all worked up about that. ( )
  kristenn | Jul 3, 2010 |
In The Unreasonable Slug Matt Cook's Milwaukee poetic chops are on full display, like a Sausage Race at Miller Park, you just can't take your eyes away from it. Cook takes one part narrative verse, one part list poem, one part Lenny Clark, and one part good 'ol American midwestern spoken word, simmering it all down into a poetic reduction.

Cook strings lines and ideas together with progression and uncommon logic, forcing the reader to reexamine all the things in life which go without examination in our day to day. How does the wolf spider in the mailbox break up its week? It's a beautiful American verse, a common sense reconsidering of lyric and poetic order through comedy and memory. A sort of Heidegger meets Ron White. Think about that one for a moment. It's important to discuss the composition of the photograph. It's important to discuss the content of the photograph. Matt Cook reminds us it's also important to discuss the content left out of the photograph.

A dialogue is always emerging; between people, between bare feet and the grass, endless strings of stories, some important and some not, but all alive in the act of telling. In this, The Unreasonable Slug is an almanac for modern living, a commentary on American society and politic, sans commentary, society, and politic. Cooks observations string together as a necklace, creating moments, all the while taking actual moments and using them as clear and poignant observation. Cook comes off as a young Bruce Springstein, a Box Car Willie cover of a Hank Williams tune played with a wink and a nod, and that somehow makes it more real.

Funny, smart, satirical, populist, academic, subtle, loud, musical, lamentable, social, an inside joke that everyone gets a little of -- just enough so as to leave you wanting more. ( )
  PatrickDuggan | Jul 29, 2007 |
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"Not long ago one of Milwaukee poetry's young turks, Cook is now simply one of the city's major poets."--Milwaukee Magazine Perfect for people who "don't like poetry," Matt Cook's distinctive writing is Midwestern yet worldly, rooted yet bohemian. His close observations result in poems that resemble a series of punk fortune cookies, a kind of psychedelic horse sense--discovering musicality and humor in cultural information, in family, in writing itself. "The Modernist Bowling Alley" The forgotten soul who first separated egg whites. The homeless man wearing the Superman T-shirt. Their intentions were clearly understood, Except when they were unintentional and misunderstood. The Madagascar moth is no longer destroying the prized sweaters With anywhere near his previous curve of frequency. Shoddy construction is now the more critical threat. The modernist bowling alley will have the futuristic waiting area Where you can go and wait patiently for the future. You will see a clock on the wall that doesn't really look like a clock. You will distinctly remember having forgotten that before. Matt Cook is the author ofIn the Small of My Backyard andEavesdrop Soup. His work has been featured on NPR'sFresh Air andThe Writer's Almanac.

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