Far from New York State

“Far from New York State” by Matthew Johnson

Matthew Johnson‘s new book of poems, Far from New York State, is now available from New York Quarterly Press.

Matthew‘s second poetry volume constructs a space where the rural communities of Upstate, the suburban living of the Lower Hudson Valley, and the metropolitan landscapes of the City are woven together in a mosaic snapshot. A collection of poems where the historical and cultural traditions of New York State meet, the reader is acquainted not only with seminal figures across the cultural channels of literature, music, and sports, such as Washington Irving, Paul Robeson, and the ’86 Mets, but to the author himself. Tender, playful, and meditative, Johnson presents stories that he has lived, and shares others that have been passed down through familial storytelling around the kitchen table and cookout barbecue pit.

Even from 35,000 feet, baseball diamonds look like baseball diamonds. In Johnson’s poems you can still see the diamonds, though they are sketched on the blacktop with chalk or manifest by construction comes and fire hydrants on the minds of neighborhood kids. In the same way the giants of Jazz and Blues emerge from the poetic landscape and lend us a couple of bars, enliven and vivify a world that refuses to go sterile, because it has deep roots. Matthew Johnson’s poetry gives these roots rain and mixes the demotic and the mythic to create a landscape of verse where one can imagine Duke Ellington and Satchel Page tipping caps to each other before disappearing into the poetic mist of Johnson’s rich language that roils beneath each line. When the myth and the mist have cleared you can still see the baseball diamonds, the kids still pretending to be Nomo and Sosa, you can faintly hear the blues, and smell the newly oiled leather.

Aaron Dylan Graham, author of Blood Stripes

Matthew Johnson is a three-time Best of the Net Nominee and his debut collection, Shadow Folks and Soul Songs (Kelsay Books), was released in 2019. His second collection is scheduled for a forthcoming release (New York Quarterly Press). His poetry has appeared in Maudlin HouseRoanoke ReviewFront Porch ReviewThe Maryland Literary ReviewThe Northern New England ReviewI-70 ReviewUp the Staircase Quarterly, and elsewhere. He is a former sports journalist and editor who wrote for the USA Today College and the Daily Star in Oneonta, NY. A northeast transport, he now lives in Greensboro, NC after earning his MA in English from UNC-Greensboro. He is the managing editor of The Portrait of New England and poetry editor of The Twin Bill.

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