Doom Scroll explores an anxious domesticity. These prose poems hedge toward moments of levity— a Joy Division song, a meal at Denny’s, underwear draped over a fence “like a lurid dreamcatcher” — as a pandemic lockdown, busted politics, and other existential dreads loom in the margins.
About the Author
Matthew Guenette grew up in New Hampshire. He earned an MA in English from the University of New Hampshire and an MFA in creative writing from Southern Illinois University. He is the author of three previous poetry collections, including Vasectomania (2017), American Busboy (2011), and Sudden Anthem (2008). He lives in Madison, WI, with his wife, their two children, and a twenty–pound cat named Butternut.
Matthew Guenette has always been an original poet with a singular voice and these fine poems carry on that tradition. Doom Scroll unrolls as seamlessly as a well-plotted novel through a speaker—a bemused/baffled/befuddled one-time son who’s now a dad himself—who struggles to swim upstream in a world that’s running downstream. One feels the eternal push-pull between generations, from the life his father begat him to his own worries as a father and the siren call from his Gen X self. These are poems for the twenty-first century, grappling with dilemmas that are at once quotidian and ontological.
In DOOM SCROLL, Matt Guenette is both the documentarian of a decaying, grinding world and its primary subject. Through his unequivocal lens, he charts an interiority anxious with drones, debt, overdue bills, conspiracy theorists, dueling yard signs, sticky notes, arguments with deceased parents, car warranties, clouds like junk mail, and bullets. And yet, there is the laughter of flowers. The thrash of honeysuckle. There are “rocks your kids / throw into a lake and there are rocks / the lake slowly throws back” and “a field of dandelions to break me in half.” There is so much tenderness here you may even feel, for a fleeting and sweet moment, like the end of the world is nowhere in sight. That is the gift of Matt Guenette’s poetry.
The speaker of these poems may be a dad from the Midwest, but this is not your average “American dad who buys a corvette to match the little dragon tattoo breathing fire down his back.” This book is more punk rock than that. In Doom Scroll, Matthew Guenette juxtaposes the absurdity of American politics with the untrustworthiness of TikTok influencers, offering the reader a wry and wickedly funny glimpse of what it means to parent against those forces: “My son did his middle school research project, he tried—he figured out there were experts who believed some things were real, and there were experts who believed those other experts were fake.” Showcasing lightning lyric speed, hyperbole, and heart, Doom Scroll charts the middle regions—middle-aged knees, middle-American middle-class McMansions, the up and down middle years of a marriage—with a Bankshot that doesn’t miss.