Cover image for If the tabloids are true what are you? : poems & images
If the tabloids are true what are you? : poems & images
Harvey, Matthea, 1973- , author.
Publication Information:
Minneapolis, Minnesota : Graywolf Press, [2014]

Physical Description:
145 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 26 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3558.A7193 I3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS3558.A7193 I3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS3558.A7193 I3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS3558.A7193 I3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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A brilliant combination of poetry and visual artwork by Matthea Harvey, whose vision is "nothing short of blazingly original" ( Time Out New York )

She didn't even know she had a name until one day she heard the human explaining to another one, "Oh that's just the backyard mermaid." "Backyard Mermaid," she murmured, as if in prayer. On days when there's no sprinkler to comb through her curls, no rain pouring in glorious torrents from the gutters, no dew in the grass for her to nuzzle with her nose, not even a mud puddle in the kiddie pool, she wonders how much longer she can bear this life. The front yard thud of the newspaper every morning. Singing songs to the unresponsive push mower in the garage. Wriggling under fence after fence to reach the house four down which has an aquarium in the back window. She wants to get lost in that sad glowing square of blue. Don't you?
--from "The Backyard Mermaid"

Prose poems introduce deeply untraditional mermaids alongside mer-tool silhouettes. A text by Ray Bradbury is erased into a melancholy meeting with a Martian. The Michelin Man is possessed by William Shakespeare. Antonio Meucci's invention of the telephone is chronicled next to embroidered images of his real and imagined patents. If the Tabloids Are True What Are You? combines Matthea Harvey's award-winning poetry with her fascinating visual artwork into a true hybrid book, an amazing and beautiful work by one of our most ingenious creative artists.

Author Notes

Matthea Harvey is the author of four books of poetry, including Sad Little Breathing Machine ; Modern Life , winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and a New York Times Notable Book; and Of Lamb , an illustrated erasure.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Harvey (Modern Life) delivers an ambitious and inventive new collection that straddles the line between poetry and art book. Brilliant strings of weird imagery and narrative yield unlikely resonances and stir fresh emotions in the reader, and are reinforced by the poems' intellectual cores. Readers familiar with Harvey's work will find a continuation of her project here, but buffered and made even more pleasurable by its visual elements. Prose poems about mermaids are paired with bizarre silhouettes of half-woman-half-tool creatures; miniature chairs and figurines are frozen in blocks of ice and then photographed; and an erasure of a Rad Bradbury text is remade into a sad and sparse tale of a Martian, a "dirty flub funny lump with eyes." Harvey's work rarely strays far from whimsy, but she manages to channel her playfulness for complex and even wrenching effects: "I had been a finch filled/ with certainty until the end of the talk/ about the universe at which point I was just/ a diminutive coo lost in the bamboo, an or/ in a grove I thought was mine. The others too./ We fell backward into dreaming." Oh, to be a bird here, a sad and beautiful place you won't want to leave. Color images. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

If the scenarios set up here by Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award winner Harvey aren't exactly tabloid, they're definitely thought--provokingly weird, depicting a world of dolls and mermaids, animal relations, and surprising constellations. Harvey heightens the impact by adding her own offbeat illustrations, many in full color, that show animal cutouts, glass bottles, and figurines in ice. The result is like entering a familiar place turned upside down, where we must ask ourselves where we fit in. The first section is a series of prose poems introducing a variety of mermaids-"The Homemade Mermaid," "The Inside Out Mermaid"-that seem bizarrely manufactured for the human eye while reflecting very human frustrations. Another section with a -Michelin man, manipulated Elvis dolls, and an uppity prom king and queen reveal our own plasticity in a plastic world; poems about an orphaned octopus, a wolf sister, and a zebra son (the stripes are wrong) reveal an intimate connection with nature we cannot break notwithstanding that plasticity. In the long run, we don't make the rules. "The world is already crowded with instructions-crosswalks, implications, clues," and new ones keep popping up; of "The No More Suicide Fox constellation," says the speaker in one poem, "I don't want to talk about that fox. He's pointing at people I know." VERDICT Inventive and disturbing, this original collection is not for your average reader but is highly recommended for those who take poetry seriously.-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.