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Gretchen Mattox

Gretchen Mattox

Gretchen Mattox has been a fellow at the Edward Albee Foundation, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Yaddo, as well as an instructor at The New School for Social Research, Antioch University, and Loyola Marymount University. She has lived in numerous places, including Denver, Provincetown, and New York City, and currently resides in Santa Monica, California. Her third poetry collection, The Flower Compass Sutras, is forthcoming.

Also by Gretchen Mattox


Goodnight Architecture

Goodnight ArchitectureGoodnight Architecture

$14.00 paper | 73 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-930974-21-0
Publication Date: Oct. 2002
Buy: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | ShopWMU | UPNE

"In this delicate, beautiful, yet often heartbreaking collection, Gretchen Mattox peels back the layers of daily social convention and hardened family mythologies to reveal the viscous and resonant sorrows beneath. Whether reckoning the constellation of a broken home, the speaker’s passage to young adulthood, or the disintegration of a passionate relationship, Goodnight Architecture offers us poems of rich psychological density and unerring lyric grace."
        —David St. John

"Poem to poem, Mattox is tough and minces no words. She doesn’t paint bleakness for the sake of drama; indeed, there is ample demonstration of grit and perseverance, and yes, empowerment, throughout. No beaten dog here. Despair, yes. Regret, yes. Blame, often. But there is also the speaker who can say, ‘What I took to be of grave concern hardly mattered. I was steering the boat of my concern beyond a certain agitation.’ A wonderful debut.”
        —Martha Rhodes

"In a gallery of exquisitely rendered landscapes ‘made luminous by grief,’ Gretchen Mattox detonates the family romance to remind us how home can be both schoolhouse and ground zero. The book’s arc is from first shattering to maturity, the poems diligently, fearlessly rooted in the poet’s flight from the imposing cemetery of the past (‘the long neck of childhood is shadow upon shadow’) toward a redeeming, hard-won present. I love Gretchen Mattox’s sexual and emotional candor, and the distinctive way she weds her directness to vivid language and consistently inventive, imagistic beauty. ‘Lettered in ropes and shadows,’ Goodnight Architecture is a candid, agile, and beautiful debut."
       —Cyrus Cassells

"One of Mattox's most acute poetic gifts lies in her skill for figurative language: rotating dryers are compared to mandalas, a litter of opened telephone books on the freeway to a flock of birds, twilight is 'as sensual as an exposed thigh.' Mattox has learned from Plath not only the gift of transforming the personal into the poetic, but also the ability to render
the ordinary into the ecstatic. . ."


The Field

I am dreaming of the caustic smoke of the father behind the father.
There is a pear on the table in unfathomable light.

You are not safe in your white dress.
What is all this nonsense about vision?

Do you think self-abuse is noble?
That the field of a thousand breasts can bring the world to focus?

When my father hung himself in the bathroom,
his feet swelled like the heads of crowning infants.

Fire heralded across the field, all hiss and pantomime.
Years ago, I got up and walked away.

Everything burns, the outstretched hand, memory, the dress?
Here, console yourself, look back and tell.