Living Things

By (author): Matt Rader



Matt Rader

Matt Rader is an award-winning author of six volumes of poetry, a collection of stories and a book of nonfiction. His previous book of poems, Ghosthawk (2021), was shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. He teaches Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia Okanagan and lives in Kelowna, BC.


Matt Rader’s Living Things features poems that are essentially catalogues of experience. There’s a Witmanesque interest in singing of everyday things, but within the constraints of form, including rhyme that’s almost invisible … Rader loves the sound of words and the shapes of poems … simply lovely imagery … Living Things thrives.
– George Elliott Clarke, Halifax Chronicle-Herald

A poet who can do woodstoves and chain saws, Matt Rader, who grew up in Comox and now lives in Oregon, is not a nature faddist. Living Things is a slim volume that shows a highly familiar knowledge of trees, plants and birds which did not get picked up by browsing a field guide… Sit with one of Rader’s tree poems, close the book, close your eyes, and there is his exact tree.
– Hannah Main-van der Kamp, BC BookWorld

The world must usually be a beautiful place in Matt Rader’s world. His latest book of poems, Living Things, is a gentle but passionate tribute to nature.
Parksville-Qualicum Beach News

There’s movement and passion in these precisely built poems. Rader throws off sparks from first to last here…Rader is a Wordsworthian, contemplative, lofty-voiced poet by nature. But at some key points in Living Things he ceases to muse, gets wild, and starts driving big poetic ideas home with sonic collision, and big emotions. Great phrases leap from nearly every piece … Living Things is crammed with slant-rhymed thirteen-line sonnets, wonky near-ghazals and suchlike conventional subversions–Rader is becoming a useful Canadian poet because he can declaim in pretty plain language. … Matt Rader always had style, dudes. He’s added some juice and jump now, and bowls strike after heavy strike in this terrific volume.
– Lyle Neff, sub-Terrain

Bringing a certain gentle kindness to a hostile world, the lyrical verse of Living Things is entertaining all the way through. Highly recommended for community library poetry collections and poetry lovers in general.
Small Press Bookwatch, Wisconsin

Rader has quickly gone from being a poet to watch to one of the poets to watch.
– Zachariah Wells, Arc

[with Rader] the indebtedness of influence and effort to write poems that can compete with the best is especially evident and painfully admirable … invested with a disciplined and highly focused interest in formal innovation … I’m looking forward to—and somewhat terrified to receive—his next book.
– Darren Bifford, Matrix Magazine

Matt Rader’s Living Things is an astounding, thought-provoking, and visceral collection of poetry… Rader’s affectively charged, insouciant verse alongside my experience really underscored those moments, those snapshots that capture an energy amidst an unknowingness or an absurdity that, at the end of the day, reminds us of the spontaneity and fragility of life. Oprah, anyone?
– Mike Sloane, Mondo Magazine

From its first poem, Living Things pulled me in … I heard the debt to Babstock, back through Muldoon, Heaney, Larkin and MacNeice. But the poems don’t feel derivative, because Rader’s subjects—and his take on them—are distinctly his own. This is a west-coast writer who doesn’t just observe his world; he inhales it and then embodies it, with poems written from the points of view of many animate and inanimate things, including the trees and plants native to the region … By turns witty, exasperated, coolly observant, elegiac and tender, each poem in this book expresses, in its own way, a determination to “see into the heart of things.”
– Susan Olding, Prairie Fire

For his second collection, Rader has crafted poems in tune with the physical world, the wonder of nature, and the constantly rolling crest of history’s wave. I like Rader’s first book very much, but this one? I absolutely love it!
– Paul Vermeersch, author of The Reinvention of the Human Hand and Between the Walls

Matt Rader’s Living Things was a delight to read. What’s most important is that it’s a delight on a first read because of the arranged music, as well as on repeated readings because of its suggestiveness and connections. … Rader is a serious practitioner.
– Brian Palmu, on his blog

Rader writes with alacrity, and the sense of a mind shaping experience into orders of living and dying, of birth and growth, reveals itself throughout the book.
– Marc Thackray, Journal of Canadian Poetry


There are no awards found for this book.
Excerpts & Samples ×
“Living Things thrives.” –George Elliott Clarke, Halifax Chronicle-HeraldWritten in the year after the birth of Matt Rader’s first daughter, Living Things honestly introduces the contradictions of the modern world: “how what we see in daylight is less than whole / and also more so.” Using words in lieu of sonar, these poems bounce off the ecology of “shabby saturated grasses” and “panther-eyed armies of salal,” and locate both author and reader within a literary genealogy. Matt Rader’s poetry brings subtle slowness to a chaotic, fast-paced environment. It is both celebration and documentation of this world and its relationship to all living things.

Reader Reviews



88 Pages
7.5in * 5.25in * 0.25in


March 30, 2008


Nightwood Editions



Book Subjects:

POETRY / Canadian

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