Results of the Walt Whitman Award in the year 2012.
In his moving debut collection, Matt Rasmussen faces the tragedy of his brother’s suicide, refusing to focus on the expected pathos, blurring the edge between grief and humor. In Outgoing, the speaker erases his brother’s answering machine message to save his family from “the shame of dead you / answering calls.” In other poems, once-ordinary objects become dreamlike. A buried light bulb blooms downward, a “flower / of smoldering filaments”. A refrigerator holds an evening landscape, a “tinfoil lake”, “vegetables / dying in the crisper”. Destructive and redemptive, Black Aperture opens to the complicated entanglements of mourning: damage and healing, sorrow and laughter, and torment balanced with moments of relief.