An Oblique Voice, by Matthew Schultz-Print Books-Bottlecap Press

An Oblique Voice, by Matthew Schultz

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Matthew Schultz
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Poetry, chapbook, 48 pages, from Bottlecap Features.

First, we detect a pattern. Then, we translate that pattern into words. In this collection of twenty-two poems, Matthew Schultz draws upon the images of Jean Dodal’s Les Tarots de Marseille (c. 1707) to attune his perception of place. For twenty-two consecutive days while sitting atop Observatory Hill on the campus of Vassar College in New York’s Hudson Valley, Schultz wrote a poem that ties together the images preserved on the cards and the images that played out in view of Sunset Lake and, further afield, the hills and mountains of the Hudson Highlands.

This collection plays with the appearance of the oracular as a haunting of images that sabotage reality. For Schultz, the oracular utterance generates aesthetic experiences that attune our awareness to the forms that construct reality. Once we have become accustomed to looking at the Tarot de Marseille, we can see visual rhymes everywhere. When the oracle claims its space in daily life, metaphor abounds: poetry becomes a lived experience.

The poem is a product of thought; poetry is a way of thinking. The tarot helps us to become more aware of the world around us. It attunes our perception to more vividly observe how this changes into that. Patterns emerge from such transformations/transitions. The tarot, therefore, expands the range of things we believe are worthy of our attention. And this is the essence of the poet's work: to perceive with more than the senses and to articulate the connections between the visible and the invisible. Poetry, we might say, is the custodian of the oracular utterance.

Matthew Schultz enjoys after-dinner cocktails on the front porch with the neighbors who live catty-cornered across the avenue as our children gallop from yard to yard like a herd of bison moving across the open plains collecting fire-flies in jam jars while the slowly setting sun bakes the evening sky the color of crusting bread and the faraway sound of a motorbike grunts along the lakeshore boulevard calling to us from some distant future beyond the green, green grass of Whitman’s America. When the sun has gone down and the moon has gone up, he writes poems. Matthew’s most recent collection of prose poems, Icaros, is available from ELJ Editions. His most recent book of scholarship, Joycean Arcana: Ulysses and the Tarot de Marseille is available from EyeCorner Press. He teaches writing at Vassar College.