Ghosthawk by Matt Rader

In starting the poetry book Ghosthawk by Matt Rader, we are introduced to a tanka-like stanza: “Reading Basho the morning after / Lafayette Square, then speaking / with you on the stairs, a tiny spider / rappelling from your arm.” By Rader referencing Basho, the 17th-century Japanese poet, at the very beginning of his book, he’s giving us a hint about the poems to come that will be teeming with nature imagery while juxtaposed with his own complex inner-thoughts, turmoils, moments about life, as Basho’s did. With his masterful placement of words and use of poetic techniques, Rader creates an enduring impact on the reader’s mind.

Rader’s poems explore the depths of his own emotions: whether it’s during the simple act of cooking with garlic, being reminded of mortality at a cancer ward, pondering over flower names, star names etc. In looking through his poetic worldview, we get an insight into how we have always been connected to nature on a very base, primordial level. Through his intimate process of self-contemplation, Rader introduces us to the nature around him in Kelowna BC, where he resides, as well as his ability to explore depths within his own consciousness. “I’m unfinished, / bewildered / by how far I can travel / away from myself / inside / myself” to “a world previous this world”, to find “an aspect of me before me”.

Utilizing dazzling themes of light, stars, snow and sky in his poems repeatedly, there are moments where the reader might find Rader micro-analyzing something that is seemingly insignificant when suddenly he will zoom out so far back, that we as readers will see the whole of the universe in our mind’s eye.

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With a similar quietude as the dangling spider found at the very beginning of the book, Rader is able to draw out the inner beauty of nature and help us peer into the extraordinary within the ordinary around us.


Matt Rader is an award-winning author of four volumes of poetry and a collection of stories, What I Want to Tell Goes Like This (Nightwood Editions, 2014). His work has appeared in Best Canadian PoetryGeistThe WalrusWales Arts ReviewThe Fiddlehead and The Malahat Review. Rader is a core member of the Department of Creative Studies at UBC Okanagan where he lectures in creative writing. He lives in Kelowna, BC.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Nightwood Editions (Nov. 13 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 128 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0889714045
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0889714045

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