by Clive Matson

Paperback / $22.00 / ISBN-13: 978-1-58790-139-3 / 91 pages / 8.25” x 7”  / Illustrated




This new edition of Clive Matson’s early poems includes all of Diane di Prima’s “Poets Press” version — 1,000 copies were sold out in 1966-67 — and adds significant uncollected pieces from the same period. At once obstreperous and innocent, these poems celebrate a place where emotion, sex, and religion come together with overwhelming intensity. In the fifties and sixties Beat Generation writers were revisiting this edgy, full-blooded romantic tradition and Matson joined the exploration with youthful energy. But the quest was fraught with tension. Mainline to the Heart and Other Poems expresses a confluence of personal and historical forces. Clive Matson was coming of age at the same time the culture was at the height of its 1960s explosion. While the poems cast a sobering light on Beat exuberance, Matson’s vibrant imagery makes the personal, visionary, and sexual excitement impossible to deny.


Clive Matson arrived on the Lower East Side of New York City in 1960, and quickly fell in with the Beat Generation. The proto-Beat Herbert Huncke became his second father, and Matson was captivated by John Wieners’ poetry and subsequently by Alden Van Buskirk’s. Matson and his first wife Erin Black immersed themselves in sex, hard drugs, and psychedelics of 1960s Bohemian life. Eventually Matson became overwhelmed and returned to the West Coast. Space Age (1969) displays his psychedelic years, Heroin (1972) outlines his struggle with addiction, On the Inside (1981) continues the political sight of his communist grandparents, and Equal in Desire (1982) shows feminism instructing his own sexuality. In 1978 he got involved in workshops and found he could make a living teaching creative writing. He returned to school in the 1980s and earned his MFA in poetry at Columbia University. He has taught more than 3,000 workshops nationwide, and his how-to text Let the Crazy Child Write! (New World Library, 1998), honoring the creative unconscious, is being used by a number of groups around the world. Matson coedited, with the late Allen Cohen, the anthology An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind - Poets on 9/11 (Regent Press, Oakland, 2002), which won the 2003 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles National Literary Award.

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