A woolly beast hung sheets and towels on the line in the morning and asked how he slept.
–Matthew Shindell, from JESUS AND THE 12 OPOSSUMS
What stands out about In Another Castle is the creativity and extravagant heart of Matthew Shindell– his poetry is imbued with the sensibility described by Rebecca Loudon as “deep play“– absurdity/playfulness with a solid, thoughtful, often stunning, emotional core. In the poem INC a character is trying to make a sale: Business is booming. It’s booming business./You bring me a nickel and I give you/either a flower or a mushroom. Lucy/took the flower. All that night she dreamt/of people smiling . Now you, you look/like the kind of guy who could use/something special. I have a pumpkin out back/that might be just your size. Seriously/what can I do to get you leaving here today/with this pumpkin? This whimsical sales patter continues to its clincher– Because I know/it is sad when the light of one thing falls/in the space of another. The streetlights/hung in the early fog like something/beautiful strung up for amusement:/some beautiful novelty. It is sad./The lamp obliterates the empty desk. Achingly lovely, yet completely in keeping with the rest of the poem.
Two Jokes About Bears (an interlude …) is a prose piece that interrupts the poetry of In Another Castle. In it, two jokes involving bears are intelligently and interactively dissected. I won’t spoil anything for you, but even if you recognize the jokes, the punch lines will still surprise you. An appendix to the book contains Form B*, a series of questions responses to which can be sent in postcard form to the address listed at Poetry Postcard Project (in the process of being moved, so not active at this moment). Sample question:
1. You are traveling. Should you run into anyone, you should speak as a traveler would. Personalize the following metaphorical statement of loss and love of homeland by circling where appropriate and filling in the blank.
“I am an amputee whose (township of, city of, suburb of) ________ still has sensation.”
In Another Castle is intelligent, absurd, funny, beautiful, great poetry. I love it.