Poetry. Art. Preface by Arlo Haskell. Introduction by Daniel Levin Becker. Harry Mathews (1930–2017) was among the most inventive and unorthodox writers of his generation. His novels earned comparisons to Vladimir Nabokov and Thomas Pynchon and bear the mark of one who learned "never to settle for results that are merely reassuring." But Mathews was a poet first, and he prized poetry for its transformational and redemptive power. COLLECTED POEMS: 1946-2016 gathers seven prior collections, together with poems never before published in book form. Poems dedicated to John Ashbery, James Schuyler, and Kenneth Koch show Mathews's origins and commonalities with the poets of the New York School. Others reveal his obsession with the puzzles that animate the Oulipo, the famous French group of writers and mathematicians, in which Mathews was long the sole Ameri-can member. But Mathews's work transcends these affiliations. His maverick avant-gardism is all his own, nourished by wellsprings of romanticism and metaphysical fervor, in dialogue with literature, music, and art from the medieval to the modern period. For Mathews, it was "much more interesting to be curious about a riddle than to find its solution." His ability to fuse the world of facts with invented wildernesses of his imagining will give readers much to untangle, while his sensuality, wit, and affection for life's beauties, sorrows, and absurdities are their own rewards. COLLECTED POEMS: 1946–2016 augments and clarifies the extraordinary achievement of a singular American writer.
Harry Mathews was born in 1930 in New York City and studied musical composition at Princeton and Harvard. He lived for many years in France, where he co-founded the influential journal Locus Solus with John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, and James Schuyler in 1961; joined the Oulipo in 1972; and served as Paris editor of The Paris Review from 1989-2003. His novels include The Solitary Twin; My Life in CIA: A Chronicle of 1973; The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium; and Tlooth. His short stories and essays are collected in The Human Country and The Case of the Persevering Maltese. Other books include 20 Lines a Day and Singular Pleasures, COLLECTED POEMS: 1946-2016 (Sand Paper Press, 2020), THE NEW TOURISM (Sand Paper Press, 2010), and OUT OF BOUNDS (Burning Deck, 1989). He also translated works by writers including Georges Perec and Marie Chaix, the French novelist whom he married in 1992. Mathews was honored by the French government as an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters and earned awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Endowment for the Arts. He died in 2017 in Key West, Florida, where he had vacationed as a boy, and where he had lived since 1991.Author City: NEW YORK, NY USA