Recognizing Objects (and Lives) for What They Are, Not What They Should Be: matt robinson’s Poetic Reality Check
Ever had a moment when you’re looking at an object, something you see everyday and barely notice, and realize that that thing is suddenly really important and has more meaning to you than you would ever admit to anyone else? Sometimes this feeling only lasts a brief moment and is gone, leaving you with a fleeting memory of emotion but no lasting effect. But sometimes, these moments of insight transform the object, retaining the significance of that insight for future interactions. While this strange experience can feel like you’re crossing into an alternate reality, matt robinson’s poetry interprets this phenomenon as a recognition of the true world around us. robinson’s use of seemingly mundane objects to highlight the intrinsic value of everyday living makes his poetry both beautiful and jarring to read.
The poem “Monster & the Big Blue Chair” from his most recent collection Some Nights It’s Entertainment; Some Other Nights Just Work, is a great example of robinson’s method. The main subject, the family chair which is “torn, its shoulders shrugged,” is transformed from an eyesore into a powerful symbol of what it means to truly love something through the poet’s contemplation of its past (robinson 2). robinson argues throughout the poem that objects which we interact with enough to abuse, such as the “eye-toothed heresies / done books” or “martyred action figures,” are better examples of what is important to us than those we try to protect (7, 9). He writes, “is this love as what we’d thought we adored – collected, / sure-shelved, secured – now scattered bereft / …no, this is love as pause” (11-12, 15). By attributing value to each object not by its appearance or condition alone, but by the process through which they became that way, their true worth is revealed. The snapshot of a messy living room which robinson begins the poem lamenting, is now appreciated and embraced as evidence of a happy, loving family.
Although many of us have made excuses for having an untidy home, (as my mother always says when guests show up unannounced, “our house is lived in, you know”), robinson’s poem takes a common experience which can be overwhelming, and uncovers its beauty. Just because your chair is ratty and old, doesn’t mean it is devoid of meaning. In fact, robinson argues that what an object loses in physical or practical worth is equally representative of its personal or emotional value. This is not to suggest that all of robinson’s poetry is optimistic, but simply that he endeavours to reveal the truth.
Thanks for reading! - Katlin Copeland.
robinson is set to release a limited edition chapbook entitled The Telephone Game this fall!
Check out matt robinson’s ACPA page for more info on the poet and his work.
robinson, matt. “Monster & the Big Blue Chair.” In Some Nights It’s Entertainment; Some Other Nights Just Work. Kentville: Gaspereau Press, 2016. 38. Print.