Rating – 5/5
I had the privilege of reviewing Matt Duggan’s Erbacce-Prize winning poetry collection, “Dystopia 38.10”
This book is a piece for the ages. It speaks for the disenfranchised masses of a world stomped on by greed and apathy. Each page is a testament to the compassion and all around goodness that exists within each of us, and grabs the reader’s heart, forcing it to look at the real issues which affect us all. I found almost all of the pieces to be both entertaining and educational. Dystopia 38.10 is very well written.
This collection is split into four “Zones”.
In the first zone, Duggan begins with social, edged writings mixed with light poetry. Towards the middle of the end, you can find poems with historical context which are a great educational opportunity.
I really enjoyed and felt the Poem, “Invoicing the Dead,” as it screams at us with fervor to learn to live with Earth instead of living against it. The poem, “Neighbourhood!” is a social commentary piece detailing the gentrification of a neighborhood; it ripples with energy of
a person who is pissed off at having their home taken over by rich developers. It rings true in my body as I have occupied neighborhoods that have been subject to gentrification. “The Imprisonment of Pan” speaks volumes to me. I’m not sure of the original intent of the poem, but to me it comes off as a sociological poem concerning mental illness, and how society can make such an individual feel trapped and alone. “No hiding place” is a political poem which hints at the state’s view of citizens in modern society, where cameras outnumber people, and people are only numbers. The poem, “Roar” seems to be about the fall of human civilization and hints at hope for what comes after. “Death in Three Continents” speaks of death rituals and dives into ecological significance.
In the second zone, Duggan is full of disgust and rage at a country/world that doesn’t take care of its own. He plasters the walls of modern society with the screams of compassion and empathy for the disenfranchised.
The poem, “Dystopia” delves deep into consumer culture and exposes modern, civilized life for what it is; an unsustainable backlash against nature and humanity. The poem, “Blackout” takes the reader on a journey to the dilapidated alleys of a not-so-far-away town which is bulging with greed, and cynicism for the unhoused/disenfranchised masses. The Poem, “The Asylum” rails at the hypocrisy of the Church industrial complex and its ivory tower games of who is worthy and who is not.
In the third zone, Duggan explains the human condition in ways only a poet could. Some of the poems are humorous while others are shockingly real and revealing.
The poem, “The Sunbathing Fox” is deep analysis of how industrialization has weeded out the majestic, natural beauty of planet Earth. “The woman who looked out of a window for fourteen years” is an example of the modern domesticated human living in first world society. We are placed in cubicles with four walls and left to sit in wonder of life outside.
In the fourth zone, introspection of the author’s life and poetry with historical references dominate the pages.
I enjoyed the poem, “The Old mill” as it is about a memory of the author who describes it beautifully. The poem, “Tibet” describes the suffering of Tibet under a Totalitarian regime.
I deeply enjoyed the poem, “Ding dong, “ I’m guessing the title is meant to mean, “Ding Dong, the witch is dead.” He references “The Iron Lady,” a nickname of Margaret Thatcher, whose Friedman neoliberal ethics decimated an economy and killed many. The poem, “Rising” is an anarchist theme made to empower the reader to “Rise” and shake off the rusted chains which the state has shackled them with. The piece, “My Secret Affair with Bacon” made me chuckle. “Election Day” is a rant against the electoral system which anyone who is slightly politically involved can relate with.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and hope to read more from Duggan in the future.