By Matt Donovan
(Mariner Books, Paperback, 9780618822126, 80pp.)
Publication Date: April 2007
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Vellum, the exquisite debut collection from Matt Donovan, meditates on beauty, art, and the violence that is sometimes inherent in both.
Here, he juxtaposes religious iconography with stories from history, biography, and personal narrative. In the poignant Saint Catherine in an O,” a knife bears unlikely dualityan object stirring with danger and grace.
A man plays slide guitar / with his pocketknife, accompanying the words of his songs/ one about light, the Lord moving on water . . . / how blood, he knows, will make him whole.” In other poems, he reflects upon master artists, who captured similar themes in their art though in different mediums. Brimming with poems that are quietly powerful, Vellum marks the arrival of a commanding new voice.
Matt Donovan is the winner of the 2006 Katherine Bakeless Nason Prize for poetry, selected by Mark Doty and awarded by Middlebury College and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. Donovan's poems have appeared in several journals, including Poetry, Agni, the Gettysburg Review, and the Kenyon Review. He received his MFA from New York University and in 2004 was awarded a literature fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts. He is currently an assistant professor of creative writing at the College of Santa Fe and lives in New Mexico with his wife and son.