Matthew Brennan

Matthew BrennanMatthew Brennan was born in St. Louis and educated at St. Louis University High. He earned a B.A. from Grinnell College and Master’s and Doctoral degrees from the University of Minnesota. He is the author of two previous collections of poems, Seeing in the Dark (1993) and The Music of Exile (1994), as well as the verse-narrative The Sea-Crossing of Saint Brendan (2008). His poems have appeared widely in such publications as Poetry Ireland Review, Notre Dame Review, South Dakota Review, Poet Lore, Sewanee Review, and Blue Unicorn. He has also written two critical studies—Wordsworth, Turner, and Romantic Landscape (1987) and The Gothic Psyche (1997)—and has contributed articles and reviews to South Carolina Review, South Atlantic Quarterly, Sewanee Review, Georgia Review, The Wordsworth Circle, English Language Notes, and other journals. In 1999, he won the Thomas Merton Prize for Poetry of the Sacred. He lives in Terre Haute with his wife, Beverley Simms, and teaches at Indiana State University.

Brennan has been featured in Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac.

Books by Matthew Brennan at the Backwaters Press

The House with the Mansard Roof The House with the Mansard Roof by Matthew Brennan

Author: Matthew Brennan
Format: Paperback, 84 pages
ISBN: 9781935218104
Published: July 2009

Buy This Book: Small Press DistributionAmazonBarnes & Noble

Critical Praise for Matthew Brennan’s The House with the Mansard Roof

Matthew Brennan’s impressively wide-ranging new volume marks a major imaginative breakthrough for an already fine poet. Mixing personal memory and cultural history, Brennan’s poems incisively chronicle the joys, sorrows, and astonishments of a now vanished Twentieth Century America.
Dana Gioia

I have greatly enjoyed reading this fine collection, especially the poems that in agile ways stand upon the shoulders of the life of the past. Brennan is a masterful craftsman and his work is a gift.
Ted Kooser

No matter how plainly these poems start, from a painting by Vermeer or Ben Shahn or a WPA print, or the light at dusk or dawn, or noises in an old house, Matthew Brennan rolls them over in the connections they attract, and before we know it they have conjured up a fully furnished world of objects, feelings, memories, forms, and loves, and show us what’s involved in being son, grandson, father, lover, divorced, married—human! It’s as if to say if you focus intently enough on anything in your world, the deepest meaning of your life will emerge, in concrete images and tough, accurate, uncompromising language. ”This is a beautiful book.”
George T. Wright

The House with the Mansard Roof was reviewed in Through the 3rd Eye which also published an interview with the author.

Judges remarks from the 2010 Best Books of Indiana prize.

“The Sublime” online at the website

Poems from The House with the Mansard Roof

The Gargoyle in Our Backyard
. . . only two patients are alive and free of tumor at the time of this report, both 7 years after resection. . . .          —“Oat Cell Carcinoma of the Lung: A Review of 138 Cases.” Cancer 23.3 (1969).

Forty years ago, my father made medical history:
Staved off the cancer storming in his lung,
A squall that had sunk everyone else on board
His boat, capsized in cold, uncharted waters.
Last year, dismantled off our coast, he foundered
For good. We planted what’s left in our inland grove.

All day, today, the western sky wore black,
Widowed young by a sun buried too soon.
At five, the darkness drove east, then unleashed
The grief of straight-line winds that leveled
Our ancient elm as if it had no roots.
It crashed across the fence whose white boards

Flattened like broken teeth. But amid the split spar
And a thousand chips, the gargoyle stands intact:
It guards the bits of bone and ash shipwrecked
Beneath it, emboldened by what survives.

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  1. […] April 6, 2012Matthew Brennan’s poem, “The Sublime,” from his collection The House With The Mansard Roof, is featured on the website The poem won the Merton Prize for the Poetry of […]

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