Every Possible Blue

Matthew Thorburn, Author
Matthew Thorburn. CW Books (Ingram, dist.), $18 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-93637-072-6
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Saturated with color and light, Thorburn’s second collection celebrates New York with deft, vivacious strokes. Similar to the way a city is always rebuilt, or a painter reworks a canvas, Thorburn’s poems pay special attention to the clothing and adornments that change to fit life’s varied occasions. “Oh to be crisply cuffed,/ something in fall flannel to flatter/ this flaneur,” he writes in “Men Swear.” An airy poem describing a white blouse—“like a sail” with “two buttons un/done/ a peek of pale breast/ bone”—becomes a tender observation not of the clothing but of the wearer. But “inky/ silks, slinky satins” don’t fool Thorburn. No matter what people wear, whether it is a second-hand tuxedo or a “mint green” sari, he reminds himself, “you’re human,/ you’re human.” Thorburn moves beyond Astoria. “The Red Studio” is written from the perspective of Henri Matisse; in another poem, Thorburn finds himself inside an Edouard Manet painting face to face with a staring nude: “I blink. I blush,” Thorburn confesses. “Horse Poetica” transplants us to a place where “we hang/ a left at the one-armed cactus. There’s another life/ after this one, but it’s just as dusty.” (May)
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