Dear Everyone

Matt Shears. Brooklyn Arts (SPD, dist.), $18 trade paper (204p) ISBN 978-1-936767-34-2
In his second collection, Shears (Where a Road Had Been) clips and collages the endless scroll of new media into a searching portrait of America’s addled culture. Though divided into four sections, the book is essentially one long poem: a deadpan litany of competing commands, refrains, questions, and rhetorics. Its racing lines often jump tones, ramming the comic (“Paul Simon/ burdens the future”) into the political (“you are a conditioned response. Why not/ consider the sponsors?”) or metapoetical (“Epiphany seeking =/ a high traffic arena.”). Though consistently melodic, Shears’s sharp line breaks often flip the channel or click through: “Life on the Oregon Trail/ received a FaceTime request: love all creatures/ or die trying.” Fixating, digressing, and self-commenting, these lines capture the fluctuations of the digital; only the occasional clear signal cuts through its noise, as when Shears suddenly begins listing victims of police violence. “I want to create and to create a world with you,” he writes, “in these brief instants of our shared lives.” Whether readers feel that he’s successful probably depends on whether they feel included in the book’s eponymous address. Pitched dead between thrilling and numbing, Shears’s churning verse may not be for everyone, but tenacious readers will find in it a “new togetherness.” (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/21/2016
Release date: 12/01/2016
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