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A resonant new collection on love and persistence from the author of The Big Smoke, a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize
The poems in Adrian Matejka's newest and fifth collection, Somebody Else Sold the World, meditate on the ways we exist in an uncontrollable world: in love and its aftermaths, in families that divide themselves, in protest-filled streets, in isolation as routines become obsolete because of lockdown orders and curfews. Somebody Else uses past and future touchstones like pop songs, love notes, and imaginary gossip to illuminate those moments of splendor that persist even in exhaustion. These poems show that there are many possibilities of brightness and hope, even in the middle of pandemics and revolutions.
About the Author
Adrian Matejka's most recent collection of poetry is Somebody Else Sold the World. His other books are Map to the Stars; The Big Smoke, which was the winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and a finalist for both the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize; Mixology, which was selected for the National Poetry Series; and The Devil's Garden (Alice James Books, 2003), winner of the New York / New England Award. Among Matejka's other honors are fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and United States Artists. He served as Poet Laureate of the state of Indiana in 2018-19 and lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Advance praise for Somebody Else Sold the World:
“With tenderness and intimacy, Somebody Else Sold the World highlights what has been lost, what might be recoverable, in these 'wrong-noted' days . . . what Matejka gets fascinatingly right is how the speakers in Somebody Else Sold the World balance anxieties of care against nostalgia and just how aware they are of feeling lost within the present, of being out-of-time . . . Matejka’s command of melody and prosody is striking, especially in combination with the offbeat moments of humor and surrealism that strengthen the collection. What results is a kind of song that captures both lightness and heaviness of the current moment. Refusing the appeal of an uncomplicated cathartic release, Somebody Else insists on vulnerability, on admitting what has gone wrong, while acknowledging the difficulties in wrestling with 'what comes after” the selling of our world.'” —Poetry Foundation
“Soulful, sonorous poems about romance, fatherhood, and other forms of intimacy. Matejka sings a blues of loss and longing but resists despair as a foregone conclusion, identifying potential for harmony even in sources of harm.” —The New Yorker
“Matejka’s up-to-the-minute collection, his fifth, turns to poetry as a way to process the sometimes surreal disruptions of the pandemic, when people wore “Different / kinds of masks for being & breathing.”” —The New York Times Book Review
“Matejka’s greatest strength in Somebody Else Sold the World is his ability to cut tragedies and instances of violence with simple, momentary pleasures . . . The work plays like a ballad written in the wake of insurmountable loss—both harrowing and dizzying—and yet it remains utterly grateful . . . The result is a stunning reimagination of musical capacity that Matejka uses to navigate love, heartache, and uncertainty . . . Even more undeniable than the collection’s timely subject matter is Matejka’s formal talent, which has only grown over the years. The imagery he cultivates and nourishes alone should serve as reason enough to read the book.” —Rain Taxi Review
“No poem exists in a vacuum, just like no person does. This collection uses elements like love notes, gossip, even pop music to illuminate the ways we remain connected, even amidst revolution and isolation.” —Good Housekeeping
“Matejka delivers a cathartic ode to a tumultuous year of disease and unrest in his thoughtful latest. Vignettes of looming disease and nature’s indifference to human suffering are rendered in their full complexity . . . Matejka masterfully combines grief and hope . . . music serves as an impetus for these accomplished pages that subtly convey the whiplash of everyday life.” —Publishers Weekly
“Infusing music, bold images, various poetic forms, and modern events, Matejka induces the reader to perceive current events through the eyes and ears of a poet . . . The titular series of poems takes on politics and the pandemic, using music to inspire readers to remember and reflect . . . Matejka demonstrates a mastery of poetic form, using line breaks, white space, end lines, and imagery to make poems match the moment and the music that inspired them and to capture our shared experiences.” —Booklist
“With blazing virtuosity, Matejka returns in prime form for a wildly syncopated romp—ballasted with earth and music and bombast—serving all the right notes. These poems slyly sit at the intersection of revelation and delicious formal audacity, ‘magnificent & stark inside the addendum, like a big breath exhaled through the best part of a question mark.’” —Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of World of Wonders
“Adrian Matejka's muscular and mellifluous soundtrack is a savvy directive that reminds us that even chaos has a rhythm you can dance to. With a masterful ear for lyric and eye for the detail that jolts and surprises, the poet adroitly reintroduces us to a world where a simple breath was never too much—here are reminders of love’s fractured mechanics, the heart-rending frailty of fathers, that twinge in the belly at the first downbeat of that song. Matejka even manages to dismantle that wee icon of violence—the bullet—until it is bared of its sin, its ability to end every story it enters. In Somebody Else Sold the World, we revisit the life we were living before the life we’re scarcely living now.” —Patricia Smith, author of Incendiary Art