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Main People My place: Matthew Dickman, all-American poet

My place: Matthew Dickman, all-American poet

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Written by Vivian McInerny   
Tuesday, September 06, 2011

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Photo by Jon Jensen



POET AYES: He writes of hands held like “two terrible letters of introduction,” a slow dance that is “all kindness like children before they turn three” and displays on a shelf, like a rare treasure, a plain gray rock picked up years ago from the beach at Seaside.

FAMILY TIES: On his desk sits a recent New York Times review of a book by his identical twin brother, poet Michael Dickman. The article mentions Matthew and refers to a poem about their older brother, Darin. “All three brothers in the same article.” 

FAMILY TIES TWO: Dickman grew up in the Lents neighborhood of Portland with his 98-year-old grandmother, mother, sister and her identical twin daughters, Eloise and Pearl, who now live in Vancouver, Wash. “Four generations of women under one roof.” 

WRITE ON: "I can't write on anything special — no handmade paper books tied with a leather strap  — it's too precious. On regular paper, I have no responsibility.” 

BUY THE BOOK: All-American Poem was first printed in hardback in a limited run of 500 “because poetry never sells.” It won several prizes including a $10,000 Kate Tufts Discovery Award.  Those rare sold-out hardbacks now command $150-$400 online. The seventh printing of the paperback runs about $14, available at bookstores including Broadway Books and Powell’s. His second book, Maykovsky’s Revolver, comes out in spring 2012.

LISTEN: Matthew Dickman reading Slow Dance at a Narrative Night event in 2008.

READ MORE: Poet Dorianne Laux captures the rare relationship of the “poetry posse” consisting of Matthew Dickman, Michael Dickman, Mike McGriff and Carl Adamshick, in her lovely poem Savages in her book Facts About The Moon.

READ MORE II: The New Yorker profiled the Dickman brothers in an article about twins entitled Couplets by Rebecca Mead.