Who the hell is Matthew Zapruder?

That was the question I asked myself as I picked up his book from the very end of the library poetry shelf, far beyond the collected works of Ginsberg and Shakespeare's sonnets and plays. It was the title that initially piqued my interest: Come on All You Ghosts. The one hundred and eleven pages made for a slim volume, though this is not unusual for a poetry collection. The presentation of the cover was immediately endearing to me with its chalky seemingly handwritten script, and so I did what any potential reader of a newly unshelved book would do, I turned it over. The blurb on the back began "Poet, editor, translator, and winner of the William Carlos Williams award," "Okay," I thought, "where's the MFA, surely there's a MFA here somewhere." There was no mention anywhere in the blurb nor within the Author's Bio on the back page of a MFA degree, although, I found out in later research that Matthew Zapruder does indeed have one. However, to read Come on All You Ghosts, you would never suspect it. I know in saying so, I have probably opened a can I don't want to eat. To clarify: there is nothing wrong with having a MFA, Zapruder uses his to fantastic effect, however, it is purely a personal opinion that he is one of the exceptions, rather than the rule. Zapruder makes no attempt to confuse with fancy language and archaic methods. You will not need to pair this poetry collection with a dictionary in order to enjoy it, but you will need an open mind and perhaps, a little life experience. The 55 poems in this volume range from personal (although still relateable), to confessional, to the occasionally spiritual. If I were tasked with describing his poetry by using only one word, that word would be juxtaposition. Matthew has an ability to mix the concrete with the abstract in a way that leaves me simultaneously inspired and jealous. Very, very jealous. Here's an excerpt from the title poem:

Hello. I am 40. 
I have lived in Maryland, 
Amherst, San Francisco,

New York, Ljubljana, 
Stonington (house 
of the great ornate wooden frame

holding the mirror the dead 
saw us in whenever 
we walked past),

New Hampshire at the base 
of the White Mountains 
on clear blue days

full of dark blue jays 
beyond emotion jaggedly piercing, 
Minneapolis of which

I have spoken 
earlier and quite enough, 
Paris, and now

San Francisco again. 
Reader, you are right now 
in what for me is the future

The imagery he produces, at least for me, achieves its complexity through its simplicity. I find myself reading his poems, and then reading them again, not for lack of understanding, but rather a desire to peel back each layer and appreciate them at all levels of emotion that they evoke. So, who the hell is Matthew Zapruder? I urge you to find out for yourself and read some of his work. You can find more of his poems on his personal website located at http://matthewzapruder.wordpress.com/. He is also, like most writers these days, active on Twitter and maintains a Facebook page as well. The book referenced in this article may be purchased from Amazon, or on its publishers website. I for one, will be buying a copy for myself, if I can ever put this one away long enough to stuff it into my backpack and return it to the library before it is overdue.

Lee Lincecum, Managing Editor
Blind Vigilance Press.