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About this poet

Born on August 20, 1975 in Portland, Oregon, Matthew Dickman was raised by his mother in the suburb of Lents. After studying at the University of Oregon, he earned an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin's Michener Center.

Dickman's first full-length collection, All American Poem, won the 2008 American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize in Poetry. He is also the author of two chapbooks: Amigos (Q Ave. Press, 2007), and Something About a Black Scarf (Azul Press, 2008). His second collection is forthcoming from W.W. Norton & Co. in 2012.

Dickman's style, as exemplified in All-American Poem, was noted in the Los Angeles Times:

Dickman crystallizes and celebrates human contact, reminding us...that our best memories, those most worth holding on to, those that might save us, will be memories of love...The background, then, is a downbeat America resolutely of the moment; the style, though, looks back to the singing free verse of Walt Whitman and Frank O'Hara.

Dickman's awards include the May Sarton Award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Kate Tufts Award from Claremont College, the 2009 Oregon Book Award, and two fellowships from Literary Arts of Oregon. He has also received residencies and fellowships from the Michener Center for Writers, The Vermont Studio Center, The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and The Lannan Foundation.

In addition to writing, Dickman serves as Associate Editor for Tin House magazine. He also appeared in the 2002 film Minority Report alongside his twin brother, poet Michael Dickman. 

Ghost Story

Matthew Dickman, 1975
for matthew z and matthew r
I remember telling the joke
about child molestation and seeing
the face of the young man
I didn't know well enough 
turn from something with light
inside of it into something like
an animal that's had its brain
bashed in, something like that, some
sky inside him breaking 
all over the table and the beers.
It's amazing, finding out
my thoughtlessness has no bounds,
is no match for any barbarian, 
that it runs wild and hard
like the Mississippi. No, the Rio Grande.
No, the Columbia. A great river
of thorns and when this stranger
stood up and muttered
something about a cigarette, 
the Hazmat team 
in my chest begins to cordon 
off my heart, glowing
a toxic yellow, 
and all I could think about
was the punch line "sexy kids,"
that was it, "sexy kids," and all the children
I've cared for, wiping
their noses, rocking them to sleep,
all the nieces and nephews I love, 
and how no one ever 
opened me up like a can of soup
in the second grade, the man
now standing on the sidewalk, smoke smothering
his body, a ghost unable 
to hold his wrists down 
or make a sound like a large knee in between 
two small knees, but terrifying and horrible all the same.

Copyright © 2011 by Matthew Dickman. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2011 by Matthew Dickman. Used with permission of the author.

Matthew Dickman

Matthew Dickman

As well as publishing widely, Dickman has also appeared in the 2002 film Minority Report alongside his twin brother, poet Michael Dickman.

by this poet

poem
(Salt)

A LOBSTER.
           Once out of the box
           The wooden box
           The metal box
           The box, the box, the box
           Dragged up from the salt

           Things don't feel too bad

           And then they do

           And then they don't

(And waves)