The brothers Dickman, Matthew and Michael, found themselves thrust face-first into the world of poetry around 2009, when both had recently published their first full collections of poems from Copper Canyon Press. The two received mixed reactions to their collective worth, heralded as either a gimmick of hip, Portland poets, or as a sort of polarized harmony, where each poet’s distinctly different style pulled away from his twin’s, only to have each void filled with the other brother’s voice.
With his newest collection, Mayakovsky’s Revolver, Matthew Dickman has established himself independent of any of the gimmicks or cheap tricks. Mayakovsky’s Revolver is drenched in a sort of dark enlightenment, a world permeated with imagery that is at once visceral and hauntingly surreal. This is a world where the speaker’s third grade teacher wears “a rosary of barbed wire underneath her white blouse,” a world where the speaker will try to pass notes to his dead brother on the day of his funeral, filled with an entire penumbra of emotion.
Dickman is still jubilant, but he is also quiet, pensive. The elements and subjects of the collection are at once celebrated and mourned, as “blackberries will make the mouth of an eight-year-old look like he’s a ghost.” The poems in Mayakovsky’s Revolver take place in quiet moments, the shadows of memories that can only exist in the world of poetry. The collection laments the death of a dead brother, while embracing the life of a twin brother, staring right into the smallest of moments, and, in spite of everything, managing to find great love and great loss.
–Eric Stiefel, Assistant Poetry Editor