Poetry by Ted Mathys
September 15, 2020 • 6 x 9 • 104 pages • 978-1-56689-581-1
From gold rushes to black gold, these elegiac poems place a glimmering mirror between resource extraction and utopian dreaming, exploitation and emotional longing.
Lustrous, tender, and expansive, Gold Cure moves from boomtown gold mines and the mythical city of El Dorado to the fracking wells of the American interior, excavating buried histories, legacies of conquest, and the pursuit of shimmering ideals. Ted Mathys skewers police brutality in a 16-part poem built on the bones of a nursery rhyme and drives Petrarchan sonnets into shale fields deep under the prairies. In crystalline language rich with allegory and wordplay, Mathys has crafted a moving elegy for the Anthropocene.
About the Author
Ted Mathys is the author of three previous books of poetry, Null Set, The Spoils, and Forge, all from Coffee House Press. The recipient of fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, and Poetry Society of America, his work has appeared in the American Poetry Review, BOMB, Boston Review, Conjunctions, PBS NewsHour and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and lives in Saint Louis, where he teaches at Saint Louis University and curates the 100 Boots Poetry Series at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation.
Praise for Gold Cure
"The elegiac fourth collection from Mathys (Null Set) draws on the associative powers of gold: fake cures, busted boom towns, fracking sites, and goldfish (live and edible). . . . In these imaginative and linguistically impressive political poems, Mathys excavates with ironic wit while addressing untapped American fears." —Publishers Weekly
“The poems in Ted Mathys’s marvelous and riveting new collection pass a momentary blade across our vision so that we see again with renewed sight.” —Arthur Sze
“From the mythical excesses of El Dorado, to the goldfish crackers his daughter hoards, Mathys’s Gold Curetakes his reader on an emotional journey through the perplexing landscape of contemporary America, where all that glitters is not, well, you know. . . . Syntactically dense, bright with topic-specific diction and surprising similes, these narrative poems—in both line and prose—explore the way desire crashes into the material world. Thanks to Mathys’s skilled image-making, you may find yourself trapped in the bottom of a mineshaft, or catapulted up to the stars.”—Jennifer Moxley
“In this expansive and deeply moral book, Ted Mathys performs an extended meditation on gold’s long relationship to colonialism, capitalism, and our baser human instincts, the way they fuel empire’s ruthless expansion and economic exploitation. From mythic El Dorado to today’s frack pads, our poet tracks greed, decries the accrual of power, and foils gold’s capacity to enchant, all while also acknowledging the amplitude of its lure. True to the commodity culture it surveys, Gold Cure’s glutted with the stuff of witness, an excess of objects that run the gamut from the ecstatic to the abject, an excess of inequality and injustice that leave our ‘poet unable to sustain / the Blakean conviction that all subjectivities, / predator and prey, are holy.’ A thorough diagnosis of our moment, this bold book shivers with the fevers that have seized the demos and attempts a purgative cure of its imperilment.” —Brian Teare
“In this glittering collection, Ted Mathys embarks on an intimate, artful, and urgent transvaluation of values for our failed utopia. Mathys adopts gold—in all of its economic, formal, and historical modes of circulation—as a medium for the alchemical search into what underwrites ‘the gold standard, the golden ratio, the golden hour.’ Wherever this inner El Dorado may be, Mathys reflects, ‘it passes through me / like wind through a screen, leaving only / a vague remainder, this dull glow— / hard to locate in the body—that aches / for an answer just out of reach.’” —Srikanth Reddy
Praise for Null Set
“[Mathys] seeks meaning within the bounds of the absolute while simultaneously reaching toward the unknowable, even via negation and denial.” —Publishers Weekly, (starred review)
“Somber, surprising, pitch-perfect, and carefully intelligent, the poems of Null Set infuse me with renewed faith in poetry's powers. I can almost feel new folds of my mind growing as I follow Mathys's images, logics, and deep reckonings with language, world, and soul.” — Maggie Nelson
“A said thing is only a said thing—though it may be true—but you can just as easily say the opposite. What if the opposite sounds just as convincing? (What if you were to negate the most famous lines in poetry?) [Ted Mathys] negates and reverses exhilaratedly, ending up somewhere near happiness, which may be a verbal state. . .” —Alice Notley
“Algebra and geometry: Mathys touches us by triggering our intellectual memories, reminding us of what we dutifully learned long ago, in school. It’s deceptively cerebral, Mathys’s way of moving us.” —The Rumpus
“Spiritual crisis in the face of past and present ruin might remind us of Eliot, but here the stained glass windows of Christianity are broken.” —Rain Taxi
“If you’re a poet, [a null set] can become a place to list numbers from 0 to 100, or a portal for the messiness of real life to break though even the most neatly constructed equation. That’s exactly Mathys’ aim in this book—even in poems with titles such as ‘Hypotenuse,’ the cold, logical nature of math is never allowed to crowd out the human (or a sense of humor).” —St. Louis Magazine
“Null Set's task is to join the exactness of geometry with the messiness of poetry. While difficult to say which discipline fairs better from this partnership, it is refreshing to see the metaphorical transformation of math and the mathematical rigor of poetry.” —St. Louis Post Dispatch