John Mateer's new book of poems
has been published by Salt Publishing
Here's a poem from Elsewhere:
There is a night when all radios transmit like minarets,
when the chanting of engines and firecrackers
is as comprehensive as the space in any loved room.
It's the night when windows tremble like the walls of Jericho,
when unbelievers acquiesce to the silence of their wide-screen TVs.
That night is stalked by a fasting moon and its thirsty day,
and with vibrato and reverb is everywhere breeding voices
like engineered wheat or a mirage in an Arabian desert.
That night is pursued by the single-eyed sun who squints
at the field of newspapers where families have knelt,
and squints again at them on scooters speeding to their ancestors.
On that night all is awake to the sound of the one Name.
Publisher's blurb : Presenting John Mateer’s poems about South Africa, Sumatra, Japan, the United States and Mexico, Elsewhere is an exciting introduction to a poet whose work has been receiving international attention for the past decade. Elsewhere is a vision of today’s world, a moral accounting of the history of the past five hundred years of Western colonization in one person’s experience.
Main description: Presenting work that John Mateer has previously published in South Africa, Australia, Indonesia and Japan, Elsewhere is an introduction to a poet whose work has been steadily receiving international attention over the past decade.
Elsewhere is divided into three sections: “Azania”, “Medan and Zipangu” and “Americas”.
The poems of “Azania” describe the poet’s memories of South Africa and his impressions when he has revisited the land of his birth, encountering animals, ghosts, Zulu and Maori poets, goldminers, gambling ‘madams’ and the urban ruins left in the wake of immigration.
“Medan and Zipangu” contain work written and published in Sumatra and Japan. More metaphysical than the South African poems, these poems capture the spiritual turmoil of one who finds in the act of encounter the means of undoing the psychic violence of the past. Sensual and detailed, they are steps towards the healing of a traumatized psyche, the rebirth of a wandering ghost.
The section concluding the book, “Americas”, reframes Mateer’s world through reference to those other New Worlds that are actually Old Worlds: the United States and Mexico. More ironic than any of his other work, these poems are pointed and political – one about Ground Zero, another about a Slovene poet who, with the poet, seeks out a shrine dedicated to Saint Death – and some with a deft sense of humour and surprisingly sexiness.
Elsewhere will be launched in Melbourne by
Wednesday, 2nd April, 2008
6.00 for 6.30pm
Collected Works Bookshop
37 Swanston Street,
RSVP to Natalie: firstname.lastname@example.org