These are not the potatoes of my youth by Matthew Walsh

Matthew Walsh’s These are the not the potatoes of my youth was a very enjoyable read. Honestly, I do not normally have the experience of poems making me laugh out loud (I mean that aren’t Shel Silverstein), and then on the next page tearing up in grief. Often these poems can do both at once, laughing through a serious moment, as in “Individual cats” where Walsh muses, “I recommend the Superstore parking lot, deep December for coming out. Your mother will look like she is smoking, but not smoking, just doing her best bull impression.”

Walsh writes with a great understanding of the human and more specifically Maritime condition. It is hard to recall anyone capturing the perfect snapshots of the complication and oddities of what is to be a Maritimer with such perfection and clarity. Walsh catches me off guard many times, as they explore the strangeness and the realities of the people in this part of the world. I catch myself nodding in understanding and recognition, thinking back to my own peculiar grandfather, hands buried in the pumpkin patch, smoking a Dumont red. I underline many more lines, surprised and delighted at how well they have captured so many types I know. The laughing and nodding comes from the understanding, the pure joy in being related to.

Walsh also writes on the conditions of hyper-masculinity, what that means and why. “My fingernails were too long for a boy, but how should a boy be?” We dance through the complicated and anxiety-ridden issues around family, the love of our parents, Walsh’s journeys across different parts of Canada, and the histories and stories we tell ourselves.

There are some poems that read like a peek into the eerily haunting thoughts inside our heads, causing us to nod with a, oh they think this way too. Overall, this was a delightful, strange collection, which I will be pushing into friend’s hands exclaiming, you have to read this!

Matthew Walsh hails from the eastern shore of Nova Scotia and has twice travelled by bus across Canada. Their poems may be found in the Malahat ReviewArcExistereMatrixCarousel, and Geist. Walsh now lives in Toronto.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Icehouse Poetry (March 12 2019)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 92 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1773100734
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1773100739

Laurie Burns is an English as additional language teacher to immigrants, literacy volunteer and voracious reader living in Dartmouth.