No Matter

No Matter

An urgent, visionary collection of poems from the author of The After Party Jana Prikryl's No Matter argues for the necessity of vision in a time of darkness. Set in cities toppling past the point of decline-and-fall--Rome, London, Dublin, and most of all New York--these poems capture the experience of being human in the late days of empire, when the laws protecting we...

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Title:No Matter
Author:Jana Prikryl
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No Matter Reviews

  • Joseph Spuckler

    “Now begins to rise in me the familiar rhythm; words that have lain dormant now lift, now toss their crests, and fall and rise, and falls again. I am a poet, yes. Surely I am a great poet.”

    ― Virginia Woolf, The Waves

    No Matter by Jana Prikryl is the poet's second full-length collection of poetry. Prikryl earned her BA from the University of Toronto and her MA from New York University. Her poetry and criticism have been published in a variety of publications and journals. Currently, she is a seni

    “Now begins to rise in me the familiar rhythm; words that have lain dormant now lift, now toss their crests, and fall and rise, and falls again. I am a poet, yes. Surely I am a great poet.”

    ― Virginia Woolf, The Waves

    No Matter by Jana Prikryl is the poet's second full-length collection of poetry. Prikryl earned her BA from the University of Toronto and her MA from New York University. Her poetry and criticism have been published in a variety of publications and journals. Currently, she is a senior editor at the New York Review of Books.

    Prikryl combines the new and the old. Rich history meets with contemporary reason and artifacts. Sibyl claims she is no messenger but speaks cryptically in the poems.  Historically, how much different would things have been for Dido if she could have followed Aeneas' social media accounts when he left for Sicily.

    Aeneas left by sea, and throughout the collection, the sea or the effects of the sea display themselves in many forms. The poems mention green oxygen, patina, Ishmel, and verdigris as visual indicators. The feeling of the sea is present in the repetition of the poem titles; reinforced by the poems titled "Waves." Repetition also exists in the repeating of phrases and clever wording that creates soft redundancy.

    There is almost a Woolfish feeling to the poetry that goes beyond waves and whitecaps. There is the tide and the in and out movements that create the cyclic image of waves. Cities alluded to by landmarks rather than names are all places with rivers and tides. In the flow and rhythm of No Matter, the poet leaves small obstacles that challenge one's smooth sailing. Uncommon words represent hazards on a nautical chart that need addressing before passing, an unexpected break in the flow.

    No Matter presents an enjoyable poetry experience that tends to a more traditional form and feeling — the words and repetition play on the reader's mind. No Matter may have a connection to the poetry beyond its more common connotation of unimportant. It may mean the absence of matter -- nothingness:

    “I see nothing. We may sink and settle on the waves. The sea will drum in my ears. The white petals will be darkened with sea water. They will float for a moment and then sink. Rolling over the waves will shoulder me under. Everything falls in a tremendous shower, dissolving me.”

    Virginia Woolf, The Waves.

    Unfortunately, not available until July 23, 2019

  • Abby

    I started reading No Matter by Jana Prikryl not knowing at all what to expect. What I did not want was more poetry of heartbreak. I wanted poetry that worked with language not only to connect with the reader, but also to absolutely confuse them. Jana Prikryl does just this, and I cannot be more grateful for such a master of language.

    I had picked this book of poetry from a selection of titles on NetGalley because of its description on the website: “Set in cities toppling past the point of declin

    I started reading No Matter by Jana Prikryl not knowing at all what to expect. What I did not want was more poetry of heartbreak. I wanted poetry that worked with language not only to connect with the reader, but also to absolutely confuse them. Jana Prikryl does just this, and I cannot be more grateful for such a master of language.

    I had picked this book of poetry from a selection of titles on NetGalley because of its description on the website: “Set in cities toppling past the point of decline-and-fall--Rome, London, Dublin, and most of all New York--these poems capture the experience of being human in the late days of empire, when the laws protecting weak from strong are being torn away.” As a classicist studying ancient Roman literature and myth, this seemed right up my alley.

    It is true that most of these poems are set in New York - and I probably would understand them better if I knew more about New York culture and geography - but many of the poems are set against language that evokes ancient myth and history. The physical descriptions of the city also use language that hints at archaism, especially the use of “brownstone” to describe the bridges and buildings.

    The theme of most of Prikryl’s poems reminds me of The Aeneid, my particular area of study - ergo my interpretation of these poems focuses mostly on that. Prikryl compares New York to Troy in her poem “Ambitious”, telling how heroes pass through and make the city his own and that of his own people (an allusion to Aeneas’ journey from Troy to Italy). Prikryl also features well-known characters from this epic. The character that shows up in the titles of many of the poems is the Sibyl, an oracle who helped Aeneas on his journey into the Underworld. Here she is presiding over what seems to be the change of cities and the people described in these poems. In the second-to-last poem, also called “Sibyl”, there is imagery that alludes to things, especially plants, that grow in the Underworld. Dido is another character from the Aeneid who is featured in this book, exactly twice. With her we see what could’ve happened between Aeneas and Dido if he had to redo his actions. The fact that Prikryl uses the Sibyl more than Dido as a featured voice is really interesting; it is possible that if Dido were the main voice there would be more reference to love rather than the change the Sibyl represents as the liminal figure between the Underworld and the world of the living. A symbol of change.

    The way Prikryl uses language in these poems, besides the language that reference The Aeneid, is astounding. The manner in which she constructs her verses really draws the eye to what’s important. The way I feel reading it is how I imagine my own thoughts would look if they were written down on paper.

    My biggest issue was understanding a lot of the poems, though I would say that is the way it is with most poetry. It is personal, and not every poem is meant for everyone (and, as I said before, I am sure New Yorkers would have a much easier time understanding). However, even if we don’t understand, I wholeheartedly recommend giving Prikryl’s verse a chance, even if just to enjoy the clever mastery of language and ancient allusions.

  • K B

    this collection was really impressive. it’s like a landscape where the medium is poetry. prikryl did a fantastic job of capturing urban environments, especially in the “waves” poems. not just the physicality of it, but the way people are here. her “anonymous” poems describing people were some of my favorites, as well. the circular nature of the collection’s structure was really effective in highlighting her keen observations. my copy had some confusing wording, but that might just be because I d

    this collection was really impressive. it’s like a landscape where the medium is poetry. prikryl did a fantastic job of capturing urban environments, especially in the “waves” poems. not just the physicality of it, but the way people are here. her “anonymous” poems describing people were some of my favorites, as well. the circular nature of the collection’s structure was really effective in highlighting her keen observations. my copy had some confusing wording, but that might just be because I didn’t have the final version. this author’s poetic style is very modern and gripping. I enjoyed reading this book. thanks to netgalley, crown publishing, and tim duggan books for providing me with this ARC.

  • Peycho Kanev

    Epic

    Your friends of friends in the city

    seduce each other in the strong light

    of their ambition by reading long

    chapters of long books to each other

    not seeing, in bed with this poem

    that two chapters want repetition

    as though by the guy who made Rome:

    You go Book I, II, III then II, III, IV

    because the second night of his visit

    Dido begged a redo and he did it

    although if he glimpsed a new facet or

    felt shattered to relive it, or bored—

    her reaction tells us he said it

    just as he’d said it the night before.

  • Beth

    Not my cup of tea. I could appreciate some of Prikryl's clever language and there were a few poems that seemed to have some life to them, but overall I just found these boring and generally "trying too hard."

    *Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC, provided by the author and/or the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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