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February 18, 1997 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-02-18

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, February 18, 1997

Writer Matthews to appear on campus

Py Jessica Eaton
For the Daily
William Matthews, known for his
personal, abstract poetry, will be read-
ing from his latest book, "Time and
Money," today as part of the University
Visiting Writers Series.
Winner of the 1995 National Book
Ctitics' Circle Award for Poetry,
Matthews' 10th collection covers a
wide range of subjects, including

Ronald Reagan, Babe Ruth, Bob
Marley and his own personal life. He
offers a slightly cynical view of the
world, yet he portrays it with truth and
an unusual innocence.
Though perhaps not well-known to
students, Matthews is definitely an hon-
ored figure in the poetry world. He has
taught at universities and writers' con-
ferences across America, and is current-
ly a professor of English at the City

College of the City University of New
York. He has served on the board of the
National Endowment for the Arts
Fellowship and the Poetry Society of
America, and is a
winner of a PR
Fellowship and a Wlhi
Residency in Italy.
He is also a two-
time winner of the National
Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.
"Time and Money" is the product of
five years of work. Matthews speaks of
the two themes in his writing, stating
that "time wastes us, and time saves and
buys us / that time spends us, and time
marks and kills us," and that money is
"not an abstraction / it's math with con-
sequences.' These are the two universal
obsessions of the human race, and
Matthews attempts to capture the true


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emotions of these two presences in our
The first poem in Matthews' work,
"Grief" introduces the book on a pow-
erful note with the
E V I E W lines "But none of
us slows down for
m Matthews scorn / there's
Today at 4 p.m. someone's misery
Rackham Amphitheater in all we earn ...
Free And I have told you
this to make you
The work maintains the same power
throughout, as Matthews explores the
lives of a wide variety of characters. He
writes of a scavenging .bear, of the
cheap seats in the Cincinnati Gardens
and of a failed marriage; he approaches
them all with the same sincere, honest
point of view. His work is revealing and
insightful as he ponders memory and
Kevin Walker of the Detroit Free
Press refers to William Matthews as
"one of this country's most fluent and
satisfying poets;" Matthews' writing
often appears to come from a slightly
dejected perspective, yet is extremely
witty and compassionately sympathetic
to the daily frustrations of the world. As
he says, "You must release as much of
this hoard / as you can, little by little, in
perfect time / as the work of the body
becomes a body of work."

Wlico's -Being There" Is another great record for the country-rock band,
Wilco shines on new disc


Being There
On "Being There," Wilco's second
album, singer/songwriter Jeff Tweedy
takes his audience on tour, offering a
unique and intensely personal window
to the life of a rock star. In a sprawling
75 minutes of music - 19 songs spread
over two CDs - the journey covers
vast terrain. It is a record about love and
lon ng, disconnection and disaffec-
tion, ego and the drug of stardom.
The range of emotions and themes
explored are equalled by the array of
influences: Echoes of the "Sticky
Fingers"-era Rolling Stones; old-time

An invitation to students


I _.

country and bluegrass in "Someday
Soon" and "Forget the Flowers";
Beatlesque experimentation a ]a tiS
white album; harmonies reminiscent of
the Beach Boys; Tweedy's unpolished
and desperately honest vocal style that
at times recalls Neil Young or Paul
Westerberg but is ultimately all his'own.
Perhaps most interesting, one dears
only shades of the "alternative country"
sounds of Tweedy's former band, Uncle
Tupelo, the cult favorite and critics' dar-
ling that splintered in two: Tweed
drummer Ken Coomer and multi-instr
mentalist Max Johnston (since replaced
by Bob Egan of Freakwater), formed
Wilco with guitarist/pianist Jay Bennett
and bassist John Stirratt; the departed
Jay Farrar formed Son Volt. In the inter-
im, Wilco has traded Uncle Tupelo's
pedal steel, mandolin, and fiddle for
organ and piano; the plains, hills, and
small towns for bright lights and big
cities; it even seems, at times, as if
they've swapped roots for schlock.
The album's first trac9
"Misunderstood," begins with a nearly
unlistenable cacophony of dissonance
and feedback that serves as a stick of
dynamite to destroy anyone's preconcep-
tions for the record before slowly fading
into a soft, melodic verse: "When you're
back in your old neighborhood / the cig-
arettes taste so good / but you're so mis-
understood." The second CD begins on a
similar note, with Tweedy even mRn
pointedly addressing those fans wh
would call him the Messiah of the "alter-
native country" movement: "There is no
sunken treasure / rumored to be /
wrapped inside my ribs:" Later in the
seven-minute magnum opus of catharsis
he sings, "Music is my savior / but I was
named by rock 'n' roll;' before the song
explodes into a barely controlled climax.
Tweedy'sjourney is long and winding,
and ultimately for the listener, rich
rewarding. "Being There" is a
accomplished artistic statement and a
testament to Tweedy's undeniable claim
as a leading songwriter. "Being There" is
one of the most engaging, intelligent,
and ambitious records in recent memory.
- Anders Smith-Lindall




For mor! information
call 764-2492

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