Durable Goods

Alice James Books, 1993, 58 pp., ISBN 1-882295-00-5

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“Matson’s specialty is writing about strangers: a woman selling flowers on a railroad platform, a toddler whose destitute father swats her in a bus station, a heavyset Italian boy playing ball. The shadowy figures who inhabit these poems are as unfamiliar to the speaker as they are to the reader, but the poet’s deft eye catches them midstride at the moment of decision, resulting in poems that are wholly accessible. . . . The overall impression is one of intimacy, poet and reader taking a long, hard look, as if the Other were a constant mirror.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“These are thoughtful, tough-minded poems.” —Jean Valentine

“Suzanne Matson’s poems about the strangeness of our relations with ourselves, others, and the world move from the sensually particular to ideas at times wry, at times startling. . . . These poems are durable in every sense of the word.” —Brendan Galvin

“Evident throughout Durable Goods is Suzanne Matson’s connection to family—be it her original one, or the ‘imaginary family’ the couple is impatient for in the book’s title poem. What she calls our ‘invisible kindship/ with strangers, this instinct of mattering/ to each other, however briefly’ animates too the poet’s travel across geographic and temporal boundaries: to Greek brothers lost at sea, a girl murdered by her boyfriend in Boston, a 19th-century woman voyager and author. Against inevitable disappointments and apparent losses, Matson’s crystalline poems offer redemption. They ‘bring the lost back home.’” —Carole Simmons Oles