A Trip Across America with the Dickman’s

With Memorial Day around the corner and summer ahead this is the time of year when many of us start thinking road trip. Regardless of our mode; car, bike, plane, train or …, the goal is to get out there and have some fun.

One item you might want to consider bringing along with you is the latest book from poetry’s rising dynamic duo, Matthew & Michael Dickman. 50 American Plays (Poems) is a 52 act (don’t forget Guam and Puerto Rico) fun-filled parade through America.

From the singing jews and dancing blacks of Walt Disney Doesn’t Give a Shit About Florida to Sacagewea’s fevered exclamation “I’m on a coin!” from Sacagewea in Oregon; the Dickman’s give each state an often hilarious one-page salute. 

If you are not familiar with the Dickman’s they are identical twins with very different styles and a uniform love of books and poetry. A 2009 profile in The New Yorker (abstract only) catapulted them from the confines of the Pacific Northwest to the national stage and there has been no stopping them ever since.

Even if you don’t have plans to get away the book will surely provide a brief respite from your familiar surroundings and if you are looking for an easy re-entry into poetry this is a great place to start.

Here are a couple of poems from the collection to wet your appetite:

Maine Seafood Company


Once out of the box
The wooden box
The metal box
The box, the box, the box
Dragged up from the salt

Things don't feel too bad

And then they do

And then they don't

(And waves)

The Moonlight in Arkansas is Almost a Song

The way the trees
All down Main Street                       
Seem to drip
With silver acetone
How the newly new buildings
Cast themselves
Against the past—
That entire neighborhoods
Look like black-
And-white movies
A lot of the pain disappears into the backlit edges of hedges
Some people
Are dancing beneath
Broken streetlights
You are

Enjoy the trip!

50 American Plays (Poems) is published by Copper Canyon Press and the poems above are used by permission.

Here is an hour long reading by the Dickman’s at Emory University featuring a great introduction to the poets by Kevin Young.

Previously on book patrol:
Oyster Time: A Sweet Suite of Broadsides