Thursday, April 19, 2012

Poems I'd Save from the Fire: Slow Dance by Matthew Dickman

This is my third installment of my series "Poems I'd Save from the Fire" for National Poetry Month. I'm briefly highlighting poems that I simply love and ones that have stayed with me as a reader. This installment is about Matthew Dickman's poem "Slow Dance."

I discovered this poem when I read Dickman's first book All-American Poem in 2008. I enjoyed the whole book, but "Slow Dance," which comes early in the book, stuck with me long after I finished. It's a poem I've often thought about and have pulled off the shelf to re-read over and over again. You can hear and watch him read this poem in this You Tube video or you can read it for yourself here.

"Slow Dance" is almost a dance on the page. It beautifully flows from one thing to another until you almost sway with the words. There are so many great lines like "The Unchained Melody, / Stairway to Heaven, power-chord slow dance." or "The slow dance doesn't care. It's all kindness like children / before they turn three."

The poem surprises the reader in how familiar, yet strange it feels. It's beautiful and then heartbreaking. After a few lines about dancing with his brother (who is his twin and also a poet), he writes, "I know that one of us will die first and the other will suffer." It's a poem that captures a moment so vividly that it stays with you.

-Stephen (Dancing on my own)


  1. "Her hips / unfolding like a cotton napkin"--Yowza!

  2. Excellent choice! I recently discovered "Slow Dance" via YouTube, and was stunned with nearly every line. Matthew Dickman is such a great poet. I love his poem, "V".