Mathis, Cleopatra: After the Body: New & Selected Poems
After the Body: New & Selected Poems by Cleopatra Mathis (Sarabande Books, paperback)
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Publisher Marketing: From her first book, Aerial View of Louisiana, published in 1979, Cleopatra Mathis has given us poems that somehow manage to be elegant and visceral at once. What has changed in the progression of the six collections since then--in poetry addressing marriage, the mystery of animals, the delicate and indelible bonds of family, illness, and mortality--is that the visceral quotient has steadily increased, though the elegance remains undiminished. For Mathis, the natural world no longer provides the affirmation and solace it once did; the navigation of a darkened hallway at night is a perilous expedition. After the Body charts the depredations of an illness that seems intent on removing the body, piece by piece. Through close and relentless observation of her own physical being, Mathis shows us how miniscule ambition, planning, and a sense of control over our own bodies are--things we so blithely take as real and solid when healthy. Her many publications, awards, and praise from peers testify that she is a lyric poet of the highest order. This expansive new book reflects a brilliant career, and is a necessary addition to any collection.