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ISBN 978-1-909585-05-8
First published May 2015; 66 pp; paperback with endpapers; 210 x 135 mm
Click here to read a pdf excerpt.
Matthew Siegel was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, California. He teaches literature and creative writing at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Blood Work is published in the UK by CB editions by arrangement with the University of Wisconsin Press.

Matthew Siegel  Blood Work

Shortlisted for Forward First Collection Prize 2015

      I wear this living skin –
      wear it in the sunlight,

      in the forest, in the city –
      wear it like a suit

      of metal, a suit of gauze

‘A book that simultaneously tickles you and shakes you by the scruff of your neck. These poems resist the dualities of lyric versus narrative, confessional versus impersonal, real against surreal, formal/improvisational, comic/sad. Matthew Siegel manages to tick off all the boxes at once, while remaining compulsively readable.’
     – Lucia Perillo

‘The deceptive directness of Siegel’s debut is remarkable; in his capable hands, illness reveals how barely contained any human being is, and how we reach, alone and together, for whatever will hold us.’
     – Mark Doty

‘Siegel’s poems see the world with an immediacy and compassion that could only come from the decision to be vulnerable. It is such a simple-seeming principle of poetrry – yet it is as rare as hen’s teeth.’
     – Tony Hoagland

‘A really good first collection because of its remarkable consistency of tone and manner and it possesses what I think of as that American quality of confident fluency, indeed fluidity, which seems capable of encompassing so much experience without straining at the seams … The book does not duck difficult experiences, nor distance them defensively. Siegel’s watchwords are openness and a winning tenderness. Despite the questions of illness, he can apply such qualities to himself too and in “Overlooking the City” there is a brief respite which amounts to something like redemption: “No, I am not hurting in this moment”. As the sun sets over the city, “red does not remind me of blood” and the imagined blessing of the sun’s rays reach “even me, surrounded here and alone”.

   ‘A book I really admire for its capacity to encompass such variety without bursting into fragmentary utterances. It doesn’t do anything startling formally or linguistically, but its achievement is more emotional and empathetic, Siegel’s voice engages the reader at all times in just the way he seems to engage and commit to the many people who inhabit these poems with him. Would make a worthy Forward First Collection winner.’
     – Martyn Crucefix (full review here)

‘Illness and treatment are the main focus of this collection, but there are also many poems about parents and family, understandable in the light of Siegel’s diagnosis coinciding with his adolescence ... This is a collection in which body and soul are often at odds, but what makes a person human is essentially mysterious, as beautifully captured in the title poem: “and I nod, think about condoms, tissues / all the things that contain us, but cannot”.’
     – Maria Taylor, The Compass

‘Matthew Siegel’s grim and affecting Blood Work charts what happens when one’s body becomes objectified by the medical industry; “blood work” is the familiar term for the analysis of a sample drawn for diagnostic purposes but “work” also sistuates that body in lager, social and power relationships.’
     – David C. Ward, PN Review

‘Long may this poet’s quiet but resonant signals keep coming.’
     – Carol Rumens, Poetry Review