“Matson’s specialty is writing about strangers: a woman selling flowers on a railroad platform, a toddler whose destitute father swats her in a bus station, a heavyset Italian boy playing ball. The shadowy figures who inhabit these poems are as unfamiliar to the speaker as they are to the reader, but the poet’s deft eye catches them midstride at the moment of decision, resulting in poems that are wholly accessible…The overall impression is one of intimacy, poet and reader taking a long, hard look, as if the Other were a constant mirror.”
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Suzanne Matson’s fourth novel, Ultraviolet, was published by Catapult in September 2018. Her previous novels are The Tree-Sitter (W. W. Norton, 2006), short-listed for the PEN New England/L. L. Winship Award; A Trick of Nature (W. W. Norton, 2000); and The Hunger Moon (W. W. Norton, 1997), a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. Her short fiction has appeared in Harvard Review, Carolina Quarterly, Mussoorie Writers, Pangyrus, and as a Ploughshares Solo. Her books of poems are Durable Goods (1993) and Sea Level (1990), published by Alice James Books. Many of the poems collected in these volumes were previously published in journals including The American Poetry Review, Poetry, The Boston Review, Poetry Northwest, The Southern Poetry Review, Harvard Review, Indiana Review, Shenandoah, and others. Her autobiographical, literary, and op-ed essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Boston Globe, Child, The Seattle Times, The American Poetry Review, Harvard Review, and Mid-American Review. Originally from Portland, Oregon, Matson received a BA in English from Portland State University, an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and a PhD in English, also from Washington. A 2012 fellow in fiction writing from the National Endowment for the Arts, Matson has also received creative writing fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the American-Scandinavian Foundation. She teaches at Boston College and lives in Newton, Massachusetts.
“Evident throughout Durable Goods is Suzanne Matson’s connection to family—be it her original one, or the ‘imaginary family’ the couple is impatient for in the book’s title poem. What she calls ‘our invisible kinship/ with strangers, this instinct of mattering/ to each other, however briefly’ animates too the poet’s travel across geographic and temporal boundaries: to Greek brothers lost at sea, a girl murdered by her boyfriend in Boston, a 19th-century woman voyager and author. Against inevitable disappointments and apparent losses, Matson’s crystalline poems offer redemption. They ‘bring the lost back home.'”
—Carole Simmons Oles
“Suzanne Matson’s poems about the strangeness of our relations with ourselves, others, and the world move from the sensuality particular to ideas at times wry, at times startling…These poems are durable in every sense of the word.”
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