P D Dawson
Feast Of Sapphires (Poetry Review)
Updated: Feb 9, 2021
The first thing you notice about Matt Nagin's poetry is how it jumps off the page with rhythm and purpose, and all with a razor wit and extensive palette. From citing current events that affect everyone in the macroscopic universe, such as gun control in the poem - Vegas Massacre, to a more personal take on things closer to home. Feast of Sapphires is the product of a mind heavily tuned into the subconscious mind, yet with the ultra-realized presence of the conscious and present one.
'I go out
like a tiger
on the precipice.'
The opening line to the collection is a perfect opening, hinting at the brevity, precision and evocative nature of things to come. As we progress through the collection, things open up. The poems are often confrontational, edgy and intellectually stimulating, so much so that one can feel pleasantly dazed and spun by the prose. The title, Feast of Sapphires, said by the author to be something beautiful and valuable that is painful when consumed, is a perfect analogy for many of the works. To stir, and to make people see the truth, one has to show the beauty in form, yet talk without filters.
'children wrapped in
a vituperative fist;
a cry of bombs dropped
so calamitous they have
Then there are moments of great invention and imagination. One of my favourites has to be - 'When An Angel Falls,' because of the way it injects cynicism into something as unearthly and unreal as an angel's wings, yet still evokes the reader with a sense of distaste.
'the halo I pawn
for hard cash,
wings I pedal
dirt cheap on eBay,'
But the poet also seeks to understand the very artform in which he writes in poems such as - The Poem Meets Me, and, It's Hard To Write Poetry In A Storm, from which he writes, 'Joker dancing before an angry judge. The storm is here. You ready?' Stating perhaps that, yes it's hard, but one must write anyway.
In his poems, one feels that Nagin is scratching away at the scabs of unhealed wounds and asking his reader to do likewise. Things itch and have to be scratched. Sometimes healing can only come from making fresh wounds.
'I woke up
like a new man,
a soul reborn
in my chest,
There are so many varied forms present, and so many imaginatively skewed ways of seeing things anew. The invention in a poem called, Metaphors, is breathtaking and exceptional. The tenacity and intensity of poems like, 'The End Of Anticipation, Beggars, and, Snowed-In Snow, to name but a few, is remarkable. The stark willingness to speak of a Poet Laureate, as unworthy, the ability to turn tech-terms into literary wit in, Photos On The Rocks, is just sublime.
The collection is full of riches, from talking about death, life, the future, and the inevitability of self-destruction. The subject matters are diverse, yet they all spring from the same existential core. With his poetry, Nagin seeks to inform, infiltrate and discover the mind, and does so with a very human and caring heart. I thoroughly recommend this collection of poetry and consider it to be one of the best I've read in a while. I shall leave you with the beautifully stark line from his poem, 'Night'
'the symphony we hear right before our dreams get lost
and we convince ourselves we shall dance no more.'