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Matthew Thorburn

Matthew Thorburn

Matthew Thorburn is the author of three books of poems, This Time Tomorrow, Every Possible Blue and Subject to Change, and a chapbook, Disappears in the Rain. He is the recipient of a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress, and his work has been recognized with fellowships and prizes from the Bronx Council on the Arts, the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Fund, the Mississippi Review and the Sewanee Writers' Conference.

His poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Ploughshares and many other journals, and he has contributed essays and book reviews to journals such as JacketPleiades, Poetry Daily and Rowboat: Poetry in Translation.

A native of Michigan, Matthew Thorburn has lived and worked in New York City for more than a decade.


Subject to Change

Subject to ChangeSubject to Change

$14.00 paper | 73 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-930974-46-3
Publication Date: Sept. 2004
Buy: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | ShopWMU | UPNE

A 2003 New Issues Poetry Prize Selection,
Brenda Hillman, Judge

An Inland Seas Poetry Book

"Matthew Thorburn’s Subject to Change gives us a poetry of the meta-empirical, asking, ‘It’s not too late, is it?’ Exuberant and crystalline, these poems articulate the problematic beauty of our grand mix-up, our new and comic Dark Ages. The next time a student asks me, ‘What’s after Postmodernism?’ I’ll tell her, ‘Read this.’"
        —Angela Ball

"In Subject to Change, Matthew Thorburn’s got the Duchamp sunglasses dusted off and the Gertrude Stein boots all shined up, the Art Blakey bottom with the Sweets Edison top, the long afternoons and avenues of New York and Detroit drawn invoking and endless in front of you, a Lee Baby Sims soundtrack crackling on the radio: it’s a sad and beautiful world."
        —m loncar

"The examination of personal nostalgia resonates throughout Matthew Thorburn's Subject to Change, and this underlying thread of sadness and remorse and hopeful expectation—a quest for what might have been and might yet be—makes the emotional edge of these poems burn with brilliant clarity."
        —Matthew W. Schmeer, Verse Magazine

“And now comes Subject to Change, his first collection of poems. It is a lush, extravagant book, one that resists any easy categories. It is filled with the energy of urgent composition (this poet really believes he should engage the themes of the ages), with genuine humor, and with formal confidence."
        —Keith Taylor, Ann Arbor Observer

"Wallace Stevens once said that poets must love words with all their power to love anything at all. Few first books show as much pleasure in words as Matthew Thorburn’s Subject to Change 'Have you ever seen a less flight-worthy lark, / such an archipelago of glum-faced rice-throwers?' Thorburn writes of a winter wedding. Influenced by Paul Muldoon, among others, Thorburn fashions original devices to depict familiar affections. In a sestina, he celebrates a more fortunate marriage, showing its couple 'happy as two blue / plate specials in a diner called Moe’s."
        —Stephen Burt, The New York Times Book Review (November 21, 2004)

"Does the country mouse need protection for the city's rough landscape? Not in this case. In fact, the speaker is stronger for his ability to flash back. Why the rhyme scheme, and the white horse? To add this moment to the mythos of Subject to Change, where everyday symbols coexist with romantic, legendary ones, and the reader is part of the journey; just another subject in the grand, chivalric court of change."
        —Mary Biddinger, Rhino

"This book is infectious, and downright fun."


The Critics Interrupt Their Interpretations
of “Un Chat en Hiver” for a French Lesson

"A cat in the river," she mused—half-right. "Like us, a little
thing in a place wilder than what we can control.
Rather like life, no? Bad luck, fate, karma—whatever
always sneaking up to pluck our whiskers
to restring God’s violin." "And God’s no classicist," he smiled.
"At best a gypsy fiddler on the dirt path between two towns
in the moonlight." She said, "A cat in the river, crying
like a violin in the rain, the notes bending as the strings get wet."
"En hiver," he repeated, "the river forked like an h, not"—
he pointed out—"like you’d expect, like a y. It’s all,
as the French say, very interessant." "Un chat
en hiver,
" she began again. “Perhaps more like a chat
by the river, like ladies in hoop skirts in a Seurat,
sitting on blankets on the riverbank, talking, eating sandwiches
with the crusts cut off." He said, "Yes, but also an admission
of hopelessness, as if to say life’s bigger than we are
no matter what you say down by the river.
You know . . . Che Seurat, Seurat." (Oh, like a joke,
she thought, only not as funny.) "En hiver, en hiver,"
he sighed. "If the river is fate—fate being what it is—
then the river is endless. It began long before we did
and ended there too." "Always a fucking Existentialist,"
she said, thumbing through the dictionary like a woman,
he thought, thumbing through a dictionary. "Shit,"
she said. "It’s a cat in winter. The river’s just what we imagined
it to be, only it’s not there. And a cat in winter . . . I’m not sure
what that’s like." "Oh," he said, "it’s not so bad,"
and the snow fell all night like shredded photocopies of snow
on a thin white cat.