Optic Nerve by Matthew Hollett
Peering inside eyeballs, pondering the paradox of absent stars, and meditating on street scenes by André Kertész, these poems squint sidelong at our ways of seeing the world. Through playful poems about photography and visual perception, Hollett dissects auroras and quarks, atmospheric phenomena, potatoes, bomb craters and peat bog cadavers. This darkly comic collection is shadowed by entoptic paparazzi, haunted by peripheral visions. Born of attentive walking and looking, of footsteps and snapshots, it bears witness to art history and alluvial light, portable keyholes, the pandemic, climate change, and the sheer strangeness of seeing everyday things with ecstatic eyes.
Matthew Hollett is a writer and visual artist in St. John’s, Newfoundland (Ktaqmkuk). His work explores landscape and memory through photography, writing and walking. His first book, Album Rock (2018), is a work of creative nonfiction and poetry investigating a curious photograph taken in Newfoundland in the 1850s. He won the 2020 CBC Poetry Prize for “Tickling the Scar,” a poem about walking the Lachine Canal during the early days of the pandemic. He has previously been awarded the NLCU Fresh Fish Award for Emerging Writers, The Fiddlehead’s Ralph Gustafson Prize for Best Poem, and VANL-CARFAC’s Critical Eye Award for art writing. He is a graduate of the MFA program at NSCAD University.