For What I Might Do Tomorrow by Matt Sedillo, Reviewed by Luis Rivas

Once upon a time artists were radicals.  I mean, like blatant radicals.  Nowadays, some (I don’t know about most, but for my argument we’re just going to say some) artists are activists, but only off camera, or outside of their professional artwork.  I cannot pinpoint the exact time and date when it all changed, but I’m pretty sure I was close to the age of 10 and it was sometime in the early 90s.  Oh yeah, when that one eastern European union-thing fell.  That probably did it.  But artists, poets specifically, have always been indebted with the duty of documenting society in all its beauty and sickness.  And that’s probably the reason why they’re all hated: they just document.  Well, not Matt Sedillo. 

I am glad –no, glad is too lazy and bourgeois-sounding (and once upon a time, words such as bourgeoisie and proletariat were common vocabulary) — I am rabid with excitement that poets are embracing radicalism and activism once again.

Enter Matt Sedillo.  Southern California’s two-piece-suit-wearing, young Hip-Hop-listening, messy long-haired-rocking Chicano answer to Roque Dalton.

Matt Sedillo is not a liar, and by definition barely passable as an artist.  But he acknowledges that.  As Matt writes in the poem “Communism Now:”
            Let me let you in on a little secret
            I am not, nor have I ever been, a poet
            I am a communist
            Because I am more interested in ideas than I am in words
            Just as I am more interested in getting somewhere
                                                               than I am cars

The front cover of Matt’s debut collections of poems published this year in Los Angeles by Casa de Poesia, under the Poets Against War Collection, For What I Might Do Tomorrow, a fragment taken from his poem “Men at War” that purposefully works as an immediate threat, has Matt’s name in black and bold military-stencil font and a red star at the bottom center as proud and obvious as a portrait of Lenin or Mao. 

Highlights from the book include: “I remember the Alamo,” “While Condaleezza Shops,” “Gary and Louise” and “Men at War.”  From beginning to end the thin 25-poem book holds nothing back, not working class and anti-capitalist ideology, not heartfelt stories of the ravages of racism, insightful stories of struggling Americans, economic hardships, anger-inducing eloquent and pseudo-rhyming dark-humor rants equating a societal system to unforgivable child abuse and the fundamental dehumanization of the world.  He maneuvers through murky and scattered subject matter, piecing thoughts together with style and ease; so much ease in fact that the reader might not be conscious of the fact that he or she had just read political thought and history in all its blood and glory and borderline illegality.  For example, Matt relates something as complex as economics into the simplicity of a few adjective-absent lines in “If You’re Scared Say You’re Scared:”         

            There seems to be some confusion
            In the country I live in
            I hear people say I don’t mind living
            Under a capitalist system
            In a capitalist society
            But CEO salaries
            Coupled with poverty wages
            That just ain’t right

            No, it’s not
            In fact it’s wrong
            In fact you know what
            That’s kind of like
            Like saying I don’t mind living with cancer
            I just don’t want to die
            You cannot reform
            Or take the tarnish
            Off a system
            That need be abolished

The reader might not agree with Matt but he or she cannot help feel the rightness in Matt’s rage, in his captured moments of crime and injustice, in his indelible snapshots of world history; and how he molds, chops and transforms abstract facts into the skin and bone of everyday real life, into dangerous works of literary art (or what some may call propaganda, but that’s a subjective word, usually used by those in a position to control the dissemination of information and designate value and meaning to words and history).

Yes, Matt Sedillo should feel honored that he’s most likely up next on the FBI’s list of upcoming raids against enemy combatants, possible insurgents, anti-capitalist (and by definition, Un-American) for his involvement with the Poor Peoples’ Economic Human Rights Campaign and the Revolutionary Poets Brigade.

But he probably wouldn’t be jack shit if he wasn’t on their list.

ISBN13: 978-1-936293-22-3

Reviewed by Luis Rivas

Published by peace is illegal

I am a writer of pornography, of politics and murder.

7 thoughts on “For What I Might Do Tomorrow by Matt Sedillo, Reviewed by Luis Rivas

  1. Two of my faves together, how interesting. Rivas the realist and Sedillo the subversive. New voices for a new century. And I am actually going to buy the book. Thanks for the review.

  2. Political poetry is boring. Political events are complex and cannot be intelligently analyzed by someone who flares up with emotional rage over a political event and writes a poem in response. I’m not interested in a poet’s emotional reaction to much of anything–let along political events that are old news in two days. I don’t like to hear people insult the politicians they don’t like, whether they be Conde Rice or Barack Obama. Leave the politics to Matt Lauer and Ann Curry. Write poems about more interesting things (like flowers).

    1. I can’t disagree more than reality with you David. Poetry is also about social involvement and not solely about descriptive aspects of life. No really, I can’t follow you in this comment. Part of the function of literature is to criticize. If you’re not even allowed to do that to be a good poet, it has no sense at all of being a poet.

  3. Well Dave, the world would be an incredibly dumb and vapid place if the highest level of political analysis was delivered by the likes of Matt Lauer or Ann Curry. Luckily, Matt Sedillo has released his collection of Poems, For What I Might Do Tomorrow that dig just a bit deeper than prime time television…order your copy today…

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