Literary Nonfiction. Poetry. The wars at issue in SOME WORDS ON THOSE WARS are the two great World Wars. In 2020, John Matthias published a long selection of fiction and memoirs with Dos Madres called TALES TALL & SHORT. The present book is a kind of companion to that volume. In his preface, Matthias calls it a "hybrid" book because it contains both poetry and prose. One purpose is to contextualize as fully as possible a reprinting of both his long poem "Kedging in Time" (2007) and the essay engaging its history and allusions, "'Kedging in 'Kedging in Time.'" The poem was written in large measure as a tribute to his wife's family, both sides of which produced British navy men ranging from midshipmen to admirals. Diana, Matthias's wife who died in 2020, sailed her own small boat on the Suffolk River Alde. That, too, is treated in the poem, and the book itself concludes with an edited version, with commentary, of Pamela Adams's "The Iron Pier," in which she describes, as possibly the last living person to have witnessed it, the surrender of the German fleet at the end of World War I. Pamela was Diana's mother. Along with a group of shorter poems dealing directly or indirectly with the World Wars are four essays considering the one hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, David Jones's little-known work "The Book of Balaam's Ass," the description of the first German gas attack in Malraux's The Walnut Trees of Altenburg, W. H. Auden's work following his immigration to the United States just before World War II, and Katherine Anne Porter's haunting short novel Pale Horse, Pale Rider, dealing with the postwar Spanish influenza, suddenly so newly relevant to us as a generation forced to live through our own pandemic.
John Matthias has published some thirty books of poetry, translation, criticism, & scholarship. For many years he taught at the University of Notre Dame, where he is still Editor at Large of Notre Dame Review. Shearsman Books publishes his three volumes of Collected Poems, as well as the uncollected long poem, "Trigons," his two most recent volumes of shorter poems, Complayntes for Doctor Neuro and Acoustic Shadows, two books of memoirs and literary essays, and the novel Different Kinds of Music. Two collaborative books have been published by Dos Madres: REVOLUTIONS (with Jean Dibble and Robert Archambeau) and REGROUNDING A PILGRIMAGE (with John Peck). His most recent books are SOME WORDS ON THOSE WARS (Dos Madres, 2021) and LIVING WITH A VISIONARY (Dos Madres, 2021).