Macabre, surreal, and wondrous, the poems here travel cities, landscapes, and the interior worlds of thought and dream.
In this, Matthew Sweeney's eighth full-length collection, the disarming fabulist and mythmaker steps out on his own into fresh territory. These are poems from a mapless journey through the backwaters of Europe and the New World - imbued, as always, with the strange, unerring logic of dream, but carrying now a new, fugitive, lyrical note. The sanctuary of the title is fragile and hard-won, and the complexities of the emotional life are written into the architecture of the physical, making for a poetry that is both vulnerable and disturbing.
Celebrated for his ability to blend the simple terror of folklore with the more sophisticated anxieties of Kafka and the contemporary, Sweeney moves through this book like a revenant - past monkeys dressed as doormen, through ice-hotels and showers of human hair, towards a scaffold or a lover. Obliquely sinister and wryly engaging, full of fright and grim hilarity, these are rootless poems - unsettled and unsettling, and very far from home.
A Poetry Book Society Recommendation.
“He is by turns hilarious and subversive, a master of the cheekily surreal, whose conspiratorial mateyness often conceals a grinning skull”
“Very individual, imaginative, fresh work... The poems are disquieting, odd, dark, beautifully honed and cadenced”
Ruth Padel, Financial Times
“Always original, genuine and generous, Matthew Sweeney's poetry has matured to the point where its artistry can be recognized. He's brilliant on stories that disclose the strange, the ironic, the sad”
“Here are the small and great truths of the imagination that bursts forth out of our daily lives. Sweeney's poems are reflective, funny, supremely inventive and impeccably written. This is contemporary poetry at its very best”