In this latest installment of our Sneak Peek series, we are highlighting If the Tabloids Are True What Are You? by Matthea Harvey. It's not often that you come across a book that's so inventive, so wonderfully strange, that it can only be described as a truly hybrid work.
If the Tabloids Are True What Are You?
Title:If the Tabloids Are True What Are You?
Poems and Images
"A book truly unlike any other. . . . There's no way to describe it, except to say that it must be read and seen to be believed, if not quite understood. Harvey is a genius of the unusual, and of the dark underbelly of the adorable; she is one of our most important poets, and this book proves it."—NPR, A 2014 Poetry Preview
“Matthea Harvey [is] one of America’s most imaginative, playful, and perceptive poets. . . . Harvey is definitively coming into her prime.”—Publishers Weekly, “Top 10 Poetry Books of Fall 2014”
About the Book
A brilliant combination of poetry and visual artwork by Matthea Harvey, whose vision is “nothing short of blazingly original” (Time Out New York)
She didn’t even know she had a name until one day she heard the human explaining to another one, “Oh that’s just the backyard mermaid.” “Backyard Mermaid,” she murmured, as if in prayer. On days when there’s no sprinkler to comb through her curls, no rain pouring in glorious torrents from the gutters, no dew in the grass for her to nuzzle with her nose, not even a mud puddle in the kiddie pool, she wonders how much longer she can bear this life. The front yard thud of the newspaper every morning. Singing songs to the unresponsive push mower in the garage. Wriggling under fence after fence to reach the house four down which has an aquarium in the back window. She wants to get lost in that sad glowing square of blue. Don’t you?
—from “The Backyard Mermaid”
—from “The Backyard Mermaid”
Prose poems introduce deeply untraditional mermaids alongside mer-tool silhouettes. A text by Ray Bradbury is erased into a melancholy meeting with a Martian. The Michelin Man is possessed by William Shakespeare. Antonio Meucci’s invention of the telephone is chronicled next to embroidered images of his real and imagined patents. If the Tabloids Are True What Are You? combines Matthea Harvey’s award-winning poetry with her fascinating visual artwork into a true hybrid book, an amazing and beautiful work by one of our most ingenious creative artists.
"If you care about modern American poetry you care about Matthea Harvey."—Daniel Handler, Los Angeles Times
One of Publishers Weekly’s Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2014
"In extending her concept of poetic craft into the physical realm, and by refusing to honor its discretion from poetry, Harvey has created a work that is both generous and sui generis, that makes as good a door as it does a window."—Boston Globe
"The illustrations and artwork in her new collection exhibit Harvey's skill as an artist whose visual work embodies the kind of playful imagining and deep foreboding present in much of her written work."—Poets & Writers
"If the Tabloids Are True What Are You? is Matthea Harvey at her best—playful, intellectual and imaginative, embracing the mythology of mermaids, Martians, and scientific patents with the same verve and wit. . . . It's Harvey's obvious love of language and the cavalcade of characters. . . . that drives the powerful engine of this ambitious and creative work."—The Rumpus
"Matthea Harvey's whimsy almost defies the scope of the English language. She seems to sculpt out of molten glass the topics and the treatments in her poems, optimistic fairy tales for a universe where everything's deformed, or maybe deformed fairies in a universe where everything's optimistic: it's easy to feel almost at home among her poems, which are sometimes uncanny in the way that scary truths are uncanny, sometimes uncanny like the Uncanny X-Men, and sometimes uncanny in that their delightful artifice should, but can't, be preserved and canned."—Stephen Burt, The Paris Review Daily
"Matthea Harvey is one of the most playful and strange poets writing today. . . . Her latest book is a fantastic art object."—Bustle
“[If the Tabloids Are True] as a whole resembles the blog of a witty, hopelessly artsy friend—one that is rhythmic and skillfully paced and paired with ‘visual puns’ to borrow a phrase from René Magritte. . . . These are poems well attuned to life’s bizarre glory, for which the reader—alternatively bewildered and delighted—is ultimately grateful.”—West Branch
"This urgent book, one that contains semi-magical concoctions like 'The Backyard Mermaid,' is truer to our lives than any Buddha shoveling snow."—Flavorwire, Best Books of 2014
"True story: A teenager saw me with Matthea Harvey's new book of poems as I sat with it in a café and asked if she could look at it. . . . 'This,' swear to God she said to me, 'is the coolest book in the world.' And there you go. This is where Matthea Harvey is, reaching out to the page-flippers and the inked, without turning her back on the grown forms and the choices that make wonderful poetry so wonderful to behold. Take a picture; make one. This is where we are."—Daniel Handler, Los Angeles Times
“Harvey is a bold reformer of words and art and when these are put together, we enter a fantasy of poetic courage and revolutionary expansion. . . . Open this book to any page and you’ll find road maps leading you to magical poems and visuals never thought of before.”—Washington Independent Review of Books
"Harvey is gifted at adapting her art into whatever form she desires. . . . [Her book is] the product of a mercurial brain that doesn't conform to barriers, that seeps into everything, that allows us to float freely in the power of something greater than ourselves."—The Stranger
"This is a book of surprises. That is not to say that it is erratic or that it darts off on tangents. On the contrary, it is meticulous, coherent, consistent. But the rich, delightful world Harvey. . . . establishes in these poems is just sufficiently at variance with the familiar to keep the reader slightly puzzled and off balance. Tabloids leaves you looking at well-known objects and finding them rewardingly peculiar. . . . Her love of the fantastic is rooted in a profoundly humane interest in how human emotions are continuous across unfamiliar settings."—Harvard Review
“Entertaining [and] whimsical.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“If the Tabloids Are True What Are You? comments on the news as entertainment, but it also represents—in its own drift away from words on a page—the transformation of the news.”—Pleiades
"An ambitious and inventive new collection. . . . Brilliant strings of weird imagery and narrative yield unlikely resonances and stir fresh emotions in the reader, and are reinforced by the poems' intellectual cores. . . . Made even more pleasurable by its visual elements."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Brilliantly imaginative. . . ."—Largehearted Boy
"This hybrid poetry and visual art collection encompasses prose poems with intriguing and crystalline photographs for titles, embroidered models of imagined inventions, and mermaid silhouettes. . . . Brilliant."—Numéro Cinq
"Like entering a familiar place turned upside down, where we must ask ourselves where we fit in. . . . Inventive and disturbing."—Library Journal, starred review
“An impressively original work. . . . Harvey’s poems are like a barrel of snakes, writhing and alive with metaphor and illusion, almost impossible to firmly grip, but step away for a few days, and the brilliance of this book will be revealed.”—The Improbable
“If the Tabloids Are True points out the flaws in our society, by demonstrating how the strange things in this world are only strange because we make them out to be so. . . . The process of reading this book opens our brains to the unnerving creativity of this world’s potential, and helps us to be more accepting of the unfamiliar.”—Porter Gulch Review
“Harvey can be a riotously inventive curator of menageries. . . . Smart and strangely sad. If the Tabloids Are True What Are You? is certainly better than most books of poetry you might read this year. It snaps with wit and cunning.”—Books & Culture
“Harvey’s latest is an engrossing hybrid that highlights the poet’s quirky sensibilities.”—Time Out New York