Identical twins Michael and Matthew Dickman once invented their own language. Now they have collaboratively invented an exhilarating book of poem-plays about the fifty states. Pointed, comic, sad, and surreal, these one-page vignettes feature unusual staging and an eclectic cast of characters—landforms, lobsters, and historical figures including Duke Ellington, Sacagawea, Judy Garland, and Kenneth Koch, the avant-garde spirit informing this book.
“Their verse… is strikingly different. Michael’s poems are interior, fragmentary, and austere, often stripped down to single-word lines; they seethe with incipient violence. Matthew’s are effusive, ecstatic, and all-embracing, spilling over with pop-cultural references and exuberant carnality.” —New Yorker
“If you haven’t heard or read the poems of twins Matthew and Michael Dickman, here’s your chance to read their ‘plays’ and jump back on the hot-new-poet bandwagon. 50 American Plays, the brothers’ first poetic collaboration, is an emphatically irreverent tour of America’s backyards, guided by a Hamlet-obsessed Kenneth Koch, a tug-o’-warring Fred Astaire, the homeless, Social Security, and all fifty states themselves. Anyone else care to argue that today’s verse overlooks the ‘average’ reader? Me neither. Hit the road this summer, in your head, with this histrionic wonder of a genre-breaking book.” —Colin McDonald, Common Good Books