Thorburn, This Time Tomorrow
pp, ISBN: 978-1904130-54-3, £8.99 (paperback only),
Publication, 1 March 2013
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note about This Time Tomorrow
In This Time Tomorrow, Matthew
Thorburn searches for his own particular answers to some fundamental
questions: Why do we travel? Why seek out new places and cultures,
only to have to leave them? Whether writing about Japan, China
or Iceland, Thorburn brings his sharp eye and musical ear
to the poet's work: honoring with words the mysteries and
wonders life's essential strangeness
to be found in whatever landscape we choose to wander.
A note on Matthew Thorburn
Thorburn is the author of two previous books of poems, Subject
to Change and Every Possible Blue, and a chapbook,
Disappears in the Rain. He is the recipient of a Witter
Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress, as well as fellowships
from the Bronx Council on the Arts and the Sewanee Writers
Conference. His poems have appeared in journals such as The
Paris Review, Michigan Quarterly Review and
Ploughshares, and he has contributed essays and book
reviews to Jacket, Pleiades, Rowboat: Poetry
in Translation and other journals. He lives in New York
Matthew Thorburn's own website
for This Time Tomorrow
Matthew Thorburns This Time Tomorrow takes
us on a journey of self-discovery a physical journey
over Icelandic water turned to barbaric glass by volcanic eruptions
and, at the same time, a saga of Japan merging with memories
of Asian things past all cast in his particular calligraphic
script. He cites Bashos unhappiness at being in
Kyoto while, at the same time, longing for Kyoto.
Thorburn seems to lament that wherever he is physically, mentally
he is elsewhere. Perhaps this is the indirectly stated point
of his saga: Wherever we are we are not. Why not?
Matthew Thorburns poems chronicle both what we think
were looking for and how we look a bittersweet
journey that underscores our inability to stay, or be, in any
one place for more than its moment, thus engaging what it means
to be here at all. But if mistaking a billboard of Mt. Fuji
for Mt. Fuji itself names the inauthentic in the search for
the authentic, Thorburns poems also tell us wonderfully
that a plastic leaf falling can allow us to hear birds singing.
Because, finally, what his journey reveals is the desire that
lies both with and as the source of artifice, the true feeling
only encountered by taking our chances with the fleeting landscape
of the heart. Maxine Scates
This Time Tomorrow contains some of the best travel
poems being written today. In vivid and surprising accounts
of his travels, Thorburns eye for particulars never lets
him down. He is a master of simultaneous action and perception.
A dog-sled driver in Iceland rates equal billing with what the
poet sees on the dog-sled ride, and the realities of present-day
tourism become part of the story: we sipped / instant
coffee while he waited / for our Visa to go through. Gloria,
disappointed in love in Kyoto, is as important as the famous
temples and hermitages there. Matthew Thorburn is smart, alert
and always good company on the road. Richard Tillinghast
Thorburns This Time Tomorrow is a series of travelogues
that are simultaneously internal and external. Though the poems
are set in Iceland, Japan and China, and rich with fresh imagery
of those places, his real subject is the built-in sadness
of travel, with sadness conjuring the innate
interiority of being in foreign lands. Like Basho he chronicles
the way that passing through the physical world with genuine
curiosity and openness can cause sudden rifts to open, yielding
profound glimpses into human consciousness. In a voice that
is inventive, natural, honest and always clear, Matthew Thorburn
has given us an exciting extended meditation on what it means
to study the ever-surprising geography of ones own mind.
of This Time Tomorrow
Warwick Review, September 2013
Time Tomorrow is filled with leviathan poems, mingling past
and present in their exploration of the world ... This is travel
poetry, but [travel poetry] that questions constantly its genre
and the concept of having a 'complete' experience ...Thorburn
combines anecdotes, metaphors and history in his capture of
a place, holding them up as equally valuable ... [T]his is an
... assured collection." Claire Trévien
Independent Review of Books, 18 July 2013
writes of his travels to Iceland, Japan and China, recreating
his life in different countries. This poetry travelogue is news
of the day because the writers temperament allows us into
his personal experience, through people, food, and landscape.
Hes the pointman for us, for every grassy slope, every
squirrel rifling through the leaves, every old man squatting
in a steambed searching for clams. This is what it takes to
be the guardian of detail within the challenge of foreign life.
The best compliment I can give, not having been to these countries,
is that Thorburn satisfies basic curiosity. What particular
moments a poet chooses to pluck out of the daily scene is a
matter of judgment, and Thorburn has exceptional taste, brokering
every situation for the sake of the reader, making each poem
a shared occasion. Old and new worlds are dovetailed without
abstracting them beyond recognition. The books in three
sections and in each he writes as if the reader is worthy of
his time and deserves exact dimensions of what he sees."
76, May 2013
Thorburn understands that travel in poetic terms is not just
map work with something egotistical to be grown from the stations
arrived at, but a constant reminder of a mavellous and still-wider
world within a universe. [His] choice of destinations attempts
to tell us something about them while seeking reflections of
the human self in topography and incident. Mist obscures the
view on Mount Misen and 'Small stones and coins / atop grave
markers were reminders / the living can come and go. It was
time / to hurry. Time to look / and l.eave.' He almost forgets
to set his stone but his companion places hers on top: 'In one
tradition, this might be / the way to heaven. You climb a path
that circles / and circles, then disappears // into the fog.
You could keep walking / to see if that was right.'"
This TIme Tomorrow
a hot dog with fried onions
(the kind that come in a can) and stripes
of brown mustard and mayo. We each
ate one standing outside the metal shack
down by the harbor. Itd become a tourist site
seriously, a green bus pulled up; and after all
we were there, werent we?
after Bill Clinton stopped by for a pyls
and a Coke a few years back.
They have his picture up over the register.
He must have done what we did
turned around slowly till the wind
blew at his back and watched the whale watchers
straggling back in off the boat, gray-faced
in their yellow and blue slickers,
glanced past them to the Esso station
odd how its the best place to get your hands on
cups of yogurty skyr, the ones with the smart
folding spoons tucked under the lids
and wondered why are gas stations
also often restaurants here, the only lights on
in the smaller towns, and felt secretly happy
about this countrys love of burgers and dogs,
pizza, fries dipped in remoulade, even if
a hot dog sets you back seven bucks (he wouldnt
have cared, or even known) because
everythings shipped in and trucked around,
until the wind turns around again
so you do too, and wolf down your last two bites.
linger over the colors of flowers.
They die too.
The river cuts around rocks, scrapes
its toothy blade along its flanks.
In a thousand, ten thousand years, this will be
a gully, a ravine.
And there are seeds picked up, carried by birds,
dropped far from here
and so, soon,
these trees grow there too.
said leaves fall
and so they fell
as his lover went away.
yawning space between two trees
is a door.
Knock and it swings open.