In the Poetry Blues, the late William Matthews holds forth on a medley of topics ranging from jazz to nude photography, Byron to Elizabeth Bishop, opera to Emerson. Throughout, Matthews writes about his love of music, language, poetry, and art while illuminating the subtle and important ways in which the things about which he feels passionately help to define and shape him.
The book begins with a candid autobiographical essay, followed by an interview on the influence of jazz music on the poet's early work. Further into the collection, Matthews delves into the nature of the epigram and the work of jazz great Charles Mingus. Along the way, this revered poet offers insight into the work of this contemporaries, including W. S. Merwin, Galway Kinnell, Hayden Carruth, and Richard Hugo.
the book is as much autobiography and cultural criticism as it is literary nonfiction. It will be of interest to writers and teachers of writing, as well as to lovers of literature, language and music.
Sebastian Matthews teaches writing at Warren Wilson College. Stanley Plumly is Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland.