Blog Book Tour | “Dear Almost” by Matthew Thorburn #poetry collection

Posted Tuesday, 25 October, 2016 by jorielov , , 1 Comment

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Acquired Book By: I was selected to review “Dear Almost” by Poetic Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of “Dear Almost” direct from the author Matthew Thorburn in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Blog Book Tour | “Dear Almost” by Matthew Thorburn #poetry collectionDear Almost
Subtitle: a poem
by Matthew Thorburn
Source: Author via Poetic Book Tours

Dear Almost is a book-length poem addressed to an unborn child lost in miscarriage. Beginning with the hope and promise of springtime, the poet traces the course of a year with sections set in each of the four seasons. Part book of days, part meditative prayer, part travelogue, the poem details a would-be father’s wanderings through the figurative landscapes of memory and imagination as well as the literal landscapes of the Bronx, Shanghai, suburban New Jersey, and the Japanese island of Miyajima.

As the speaker navigates his days, he attempts to show his unborn daughter “what life is like / here where you ought to be / with us, but aren’t.” His experiences recall other deaths and uncover the different ways we remember and forget. Grief forces him to consider a question he never imagined asking: how do you mourn for someone you loved but never truly knew, never met or saw? In candid, meditative verse, Dear Almost seeks to resolve this painful question, honoring the memory of a child who both was and wasn’t there.

Places to find the book:

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ISBN: 9780807164310

Genres: Poetry & Drama


Published by Louisiana State University Press

on 1st September, 2016

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 88

Published By: Louisiana State University Press

Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #Poetry

About Matthew Thorburn

Matthew Thorburn

Matthew Thorburn is the author of six collections of poetry, including the book-length poem Dear Almost (Louisiana State University Press, 2016) and the chapbook A Green River in Spring (Autumn House Press, 2015), winner of the Coal Hill Review chapbook competition. His previous collections include This Time Tomorrow (Waywiser Press, 2013), Every Possible Blue (CW Books, 2012), Subject to Change, and an earlier chapbook, the long poem Disappears in the Rain (Parlor City Press, 2009). His work has been recognized with a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress, as well as fellowships from the Bronx Council on the Arts and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. His interviews with writers appear on the Ploughshares blog as a monthly feature. He lives in New York City, where he works in corporate communications.

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I knew going into reading this collection of poetry or stream of conscious thoughts interlacing through the loss of an unbourne child would be an emotional read. I wanted to see how the writer approached the subject but also, how he found the light and inspiration to move forward after such a great loss. Similar in vein to my interest in my previous readings of Saris and a Single Malt where we entreat inside the writer’s interpersonal space of where thoughts, prayers, memories and the hopes of what is not yet imagined all swirl into our hearts and minds. To dig deeper into the human condition and the conveyance of the emotional plane we all experience in our lives whilst drawing solace out of sorrow and perspective out of the most difficult moments we experience.

One of the most beautiful ways to give testament to our lives is to take a glance of how the seasons affect us and how they move us to recognise different truths about ourselves at different times of the year. I was not surprised then, to find each designation inside this collection was spilt between Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter; as I am sure each season brought it’s mirths of joys intermixed with it’s sorrows as well. Even without a loss in our lives, the seasons have a way of changing small moments of our living hours – either by our experiences or by how we continue to grow as we age. There is always something to be seen even if it goes overlooked ahead of us realising what it is that we’re meant to know now.

There is a rhythm of realism threading inside the meditative heart-pulse of Thorburn’s poetic style of setting not only a tone of intuitive insight but of setting, time and fixture of ‘place’; to be tied directly into his thoughts as they are arriving inside his mind, as his pen etches out the words to capture the moments he wishes to reflect upon lateron. We arrive in Spring, where the holds of Old Man Winter are still upon the scene, but where the birds are already ready to make haste with their nests and start their lives with purpose now that the Earth is renewing her interest in creating new life. There is a somber undertone here, where there is a nod of the past and of what was once lost, but there is so much hope stitched inside the first opening bits of his poems where Thorburn has a tender-hearted way of enveloping inside the light he’s been graced to have after such a tragedy. He hints at the nuances of how life cycles through seasons but also, at how, he can be observant from afar and yet, through that portal of a lens be centred on what is taking place outside. He captures how his life and the natural world concurrently live side by side, as each world acknowledges the passing hours and the settling of seasons with their own methods of exchanging one chapter of time for another one.

Fusing to the realities of our current events and the tragedies (or near tragedies) which besot us with more questions than there are answers, Thorburn bridges that tentative gap between turning introspective on his own living narrative and the one that is surrounding all of us all the time in our conjoined experience of ‘now’. How certain events can become known due to their extensive air times on international newsfeeds or how there is a distinctive difference in how some events are given more attention than others. The sad truth of how some tragedies have no closure – either for those who lost their lives, those who remained behind in their absence or any of us who wondered, how could something like that happen? There are a multitude of things that happen without definition of ‘why’ nor ‘how’ but that doesn’t mean a curious mind doesn’t contemplate how to fill in those blanks of ‘understanding the impossible’.

Each section mirrors an eclipse of Thorburn’s journalled memories of the moments that gave him the most pause or the most insight into what he was trying to encompass into a singular line of poetry. To find clarity amongst what was unclear and to holdfast to the knowledge of ‘something’ just out of sight but felt deep in his soul. Even when he was travelling in Asia, his thoughts turnt inside and out, warring with each other a bit to gain the best attention of what he could grant himself in a moment where reverence was needed but something else called his thoughts away. A hungering of peace to find solace and grace, where he yearned to embrace what was elusively out of his touch. He can speak volumes out of small lines which trace the emotional keeling of a man whose working towards his own inner tunnel of light.

There is a gutting moment of realising how anchoured Thorburn’s story is to the reality of his loss and to the plight of his present – to be caught off-guard in new moments that are giving joy where in the shorter expanse of the past, all hope fell short of what was hoped for so dearly to be safe and sound. You feel his anguish and his soulful wish to understand – why did one life fall and one life thrive? Who chooses vitality and how does any of it make any sense to anyone in the end? There was an interlude about language barriers and how language is it’s own vehicle of understanding – what is absent from vocalised speech and what is cut short of being revealled – either by translation, understanding or intention. There is a ache inside this poetry – a presence of how the will of a man to move forward guides his tomorrows but how the past tragedy overshadows his present to where he has trouble shifting forward without the heartache collapsing inside his heart. He openly writes out what he’s feeling, trying to make sense of everything and nothing all at once.

Throughout the collection you catch glimpses of questions, where Thorburn is revealling his vulnerability and his fatherly wonderment about what his child may or may not have thought about the same observations he is making throughout the story.  This is a story of what is ‘almost’ possible and what is a way of having closure when the one person you’d like to leave behind footprints to follow after you is not able to take the journey beside you but can be with you in spirit. I loved how he opened with pensive wonder about the thought process of the bird attempting to bring materials to it’s nest – why was it choosing to hold so tight to one piece of material when there were plenty of others that could be fetched? What made that choice more important in that moment? It sparked an interesting line of thought back towards understanding our own choices and why sometimes, letting go is the hardest lesson to learn and the one that we all have to embrace at some point.

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who picked up the same story to read.

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “Dear Almost”, author biography, author photograph of Matthew Thorburn, book synopsis and Poetic Book Tours badge were all provided by Poetic Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Ruminations and Impressions Banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all. "I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story) more >> | Hire me as a betareader | Policies & Review Requests
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Posted Tuesday, 25 October, 2016 by jorielov in 21st Century, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Indie Author, Modern Day, Poetic Book Tours, Poetry

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One response to “Blog Book Tour | “Dear Almost” by Matthew Thorburn #poetry collection

  1. Thank you so much for being on this tour. I’m so glad that the poem resonated with you. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been to write this.

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