“[Pennock’s] images are fierce, exact, and unsentimental, unburdened by ornament or exaggeration and often fashioned with dark humor. . . [His] poetry demonstrates that the pursuit of meaning in a cruel, absurd world is a powerful act of faith.”
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Matthew Pennock is a graduate of the undergraduate poetry writing program at the University of Virginia and received his MFA from Columbia University. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such literary journals as Western Humanities Review, LIT, Denver Quarterly, New York Quarterly, Love Among the Ruins, Guernica: A Journal of Art and Politics, and American Literary Review, among others. He lives in Manhattan and teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and works at Yeshiva University.
“Pennock’s poems exemplify Hugh Kenner’s dictum that ‘idiosyncrasy of language derives from attention.’ Here, Pennock proves that language can bridge the gap between cerebration and sensation. The focus of his lens shifts effortlessly from extreme close-up (‘the fractal / geometry of a seahorse tail’) to macrocosm (‘a numinous sphere / of concentric circles,’) and revels in the temptations of each perspective. ‘[L]ike a fishbowl / on a rocking chair,’ this marvelous debut collection overflows with vertigo, brinksmanship, gravity, and pure pleasure.”
“An array of marginalized, criminal, ashamed, hurt, and unwashed figures—dogs, hyenas, coyotes, Hephaestus, insomniacs, alcoholics, spurned lovers—stalk Pennock’s book, hell-bent on their anti-heroic journey. Part ghost-town carnival mid-way, replete with jokes and rope tricks, part Greek tragedy, part quotidian plumbing and domestic mire, part ardent lyricism and hope, Sudden Dog balances its cynicism with authentic, fully human dignity.”
—Lisa Russ Spaar
“‘It’s only America,’ writes Matthew Pennock. ‘We watch it unravel like a fourth act without direction.’ And so in Pennock’s fine first collection, we find a country of war and surveillance, an economy of boom and collapse and a consciousness built of fragments assembled, admired, broken again. Sudden Dog is a troubling, moving and memorable book, that returns—strangely and via estrangement—to love.”
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