Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Poetry Canadian

Living Things

by (author) Matt Rader

Nightwood Editions
Initial publish date
Mar 2008
Canadian, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2008
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 16
  • Grade: 11


"Living Things thrives." –George Elliott Clarke, Halifax Chronicle-Herald

Written 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.

About the author

Matt Rader is the author of three books of poems: A Doctor Pedalled Her Bicycle Over the River Arno (House of Anansi, 2011), Living Things (Nightwood Editions, 2008), and Miraculous Hours (Nightwood Editions, 2005), which was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and long-listed for the ReLit Award. His poems, stories and non-fiction have appeared in The Walrus, Prism International, The Fiddlehead, The Journey Prize Anthology, as well as many other publications across North America, Australia and Europe and have been nominated for numerous awards including the Gerald Lampert Award, the Journey Prize and two Pushcart Prizes. His website is

Matt Rader's profile page

Editorial Reviews

[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, <a href=""><i>Matrix Magazine</i></a>

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.

<i>Small Press Bookwatch</i>, Wisconsin

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 <i>The Reinvention of the Human Hand</i> and <i>Between the Walls</i>

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, <i>Halifax Chronicle-Herald</i>

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, <i>Journal of Canadian Poetry</i>

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 <a href="">blog</a>

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, <a href=""><i>Prairie Fire</i></a>

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, <i>sub-Terrain</i>

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.

<i>Parksville-Qualicum Beach News</i>

Rader has quickly gone from being a poet to watch to one of the poets to watch.

Zachariah Wells, <i>Arc</i>

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, <a href=""><i>Mondo Magazine</i></a>

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, <i>BC BookWorld</i>

Librarian Reviews

Living Things

Born in 1978, Matt Rader is already on the way to becoming an important poet of and for the twenty-first century. His thoughtful (and thought-provoking) poems cover a broad range of concerns. Interspersed throughout the book is a multi-aspected homage to various species of trees; he also honours such recognizable touchstones as dishes in soapy water, the blinking red 12:00 on an unset digital display, and even the long-revered National Research Council Time Signal. Yet Rader also honours poetic tradition with poems acknowledging Louis MacNeice, Philip Larkin, and even John Keats and Arthur Rimbaud. Without compromising metaphor or other poetic art, and even employing metre, rhyme and traditional form in some of his poems, his work provides a fresh look at all that poetry can be.

Caution: Some words may be offensive to some. There are also references to sexual behaviours and to using alcohol or marijuana.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. BC Books for BC Schools. 2008-2009.

Other titles by Matt Rader