Traveling the nation, Matt Donovan examines the paradox of a country plagued by gun violence yet consumed with protecting the right to bear arms.
Matt Donovan’s The Dug-Up Gun Museum confronts our country’s obsession with guns to explore America’s deep-seated political divisions and issues linked to violence, race, power, and privilege. Taking its title from an actual museum located in Wyoming, this collection of poems interrogates our country’s history of gun violence, asking questions about our fetishization of weapons, how mass shootings and the killing of unarmed civilians by police have become normalized, and the multitudinous ways in which firearms are ingrained in our country’s culture.
Much like the poet himself, Donovan’s poems are dynamic and constantly in motion as he explores the ways in which capitalism and its relentless stream of content have led to a collective desensitization in the face of violence. In turns harrowing, elegiac, and ironic, set in locations ranging from Cody to Chicago, from Las Vegas to Sandy Hook, The Dug-Up Gun Museum probes America’s failures, bizarre infatuations, and innumerable tragedies linked to guns.
“In The Dug-Up Gun Museum, Matt Donovan is anthropologist, empath, parent, skeptic, participant-observer, critic, and mourner, as he takes us on a riveting tour (and indictment) of America’s gun culture. These profoundly moving and wildly expansive documentary poems travel through NRA Headquarters, Emergency Rooms, school hallways, memorials, museums, battle reenactments, police test-firing ranges, crime scenes, and historical sites searching for answers to an elusive question: how can this country be as hypervigilant as it is careless when it comes to the lives of its citizens? With equal parts curiosity, grief, and rage, Donovan limns a clear-eyed hymn to one of the most pressing national issues of our time.”— Erika Meitner, author of Useful Junk and Holy Moly Carry Me
“Matt Donovan’s The Dug Up Gun Museum should be required reading and at the center of any conversation concerning 2nd Amendment rights. Unlike most of these conversations, though, Donovan’s collection is complex, nuanced, and is not at all shy about cutting to the heart of the matter. In verse, prose poems, and lyric essays, Donovan holds up a mirror to America, so that we may, as Yusef Komunyakaa once wrote, ‘see and know the terror we are made of.’”— John Murillo, author of Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry
“In The Dug-Up Gun Museum, Matt Donovan unearths and deconstructs that icon of material culture in the haunted museum that is American culture — the gun. Awhirl with pop cultural references and inhabiting an array of forms, from documentary poetry to poems that teeter on essay to the lush anaphoric spillage of the title poem, Donovan disinters, bravely, the gun fetish at our core, where ‘the slash of police tape…is the only horizon / that matters just now,’ and even the night sky is ‘a black cloth riddled with holes.’ I am moved by the speaker’s anger, his fear, and his tenderness. In his tenacious witnessing of the ultimate mechanism of invulnerability, he makes himself vulnerable.”— Diane Seuss, author of frank: sonnets