Encomium: Cento Paradelles by Matthew Schultz

Matthew Schultz is the Director of the Writing Center and Adjunct Associate Professor of English. He earned both his B.A. and M.A. in English Literature at John Carroll University and his Ph.D. in English Literature from Saint Louis University where he specialized in Irish Studies, Literary Modernism, and Postcolonial Theory.

Matt is the author of Haunted Historiographies: The Rhetoric of Ideology in Postcolonial Irish Fiction (Manchester University Press, 2014) and Joycean Arcana: Ulysses and the Tarot de Marseille (EyeCorner Press 2020). His essays on Irish literary history have appeared in journals like Irish Studies Review, James Joyce Quarterly, Postcolonial Text, and Literature & Aesthetics.

Additionally, Matt has published two novels—On Coventry (Harvard Square Editions, 2015) and We, The Wanted (John Hunt Publishing 2021). His poetry appears in over 60 journals and magazines including 2River where his chapbook, Parallax, is available. Matt’s chapbook, With Ghosts, and his full-length collection of prose poems, Icaros, are both forthcoming from ELJ Editions in May 2022.

Matt began studying poetry in earnest when he discovered the works of W.B. Yeats as an undergraduate. This led him quickly to the works of Paul Muldoon, Seamus Heaney, and Eamon Grennan, all of whom he pays homage to in this collection of poems that grew out of a want to enter into conversation with these poets. The first paradelle appeared in Picnic, Lightning (1998) by the American poet Billy Collins as a parody of the villanelle. While Collins mocks the form in a playful sort of way, Matt uses the paradelle to uncover interesting new images that he then twists into surreal narratives. Encomium simultaneously shows reverence for and reimagines works by the paragons of Irish poetry.  


“Man is least himself when he talks

in his own person. Give him a mask,

and he will tell you the truth.”

–– Oscar Wilde, “The Critic as Artist”

The PARADELLE is a poem of four six-line stanzas in which the first and second lines, as well as the third and fourth lines of the first three stanzas, must be identical. The fifth and sixth lines, which traditionally resolve these stanzas, must use all the words from the preceding lines and only those words. Similarly, the final stanza must use every word from all the preceding stanzas and only those words.


Paradelle for Eavan Boland

As dusk fell on the city, unheroic, a cynic
As dusk fell on the city, unheroic, a cynic
At Kilmainham Gaol lights the laws of love.
At Kilmainham Gaol lights the laws of love.
A gaol of love at dusk, unheroic Kilmainham 
As the cynic laws fell on the city lights.

The woman turns herself into a fish and soul
The woman turns herself into a fish and soul
Gifts of the river in exile: we are always too late.
Gifts of the river in exile: we are always too late.
A fish and the exile, too, we are in the river turns.
Woman of soul, always herself, late into gifts.

Midnight flowers, doorstep kisses, ghost stories
Midnight flowers, doorstep kisses, ghost stories
In a time of violence: the poet’s lullaby. 
In a time of violence: the poet’s lullaby. 
Midnight lullaby, ghost kisses, the poet’s time:
A violence in stories of doorstep flowers.

River of love, exile stories always at dusk––
A Fish turns herself late in the laws of time.
The soul lights violence on the doorstep,
We are in the lullaby gaol, unheroic and cynic.
The city as midnight fell into a poet’s kisses;
A woman gifts ghost flowers of Kilmainham.

Praise for the author

“In this intriguing collection, we see how the use of a restrictive poetic form can reveal new and surprising insights from pre-existing works. Using repetition and masterful rearrangement, Schultz reinvigorates the familiar and transforms lines from an array of popular Irish poets. The resulting poems subvert our expectations and celebrate creativity through experimentation. This captivating collection rewards the reader with its inventiveness and demands to be revisited often, for as in his poem “Paradelle for Eamon Grennan”, Schultz succeeds in reminding us that ‘looking at it matters’.”

– Michelle Granville, mixed-media artist. IG: @Beleafmoon

In Matt Schultz’s handling, the parodic, hucksterish form of the paradelle assumes a new formal and emotional camouflage. In bringing together Irish poets living and lost, Schultz compels their lines into unexpected geometries. He achieves strange and compelling resonances within each poem; he match-makes offbeat, often poignant relationships among the poets. From rough days to rough fields, from Fergus to Sweeney to Ballycastle ballerinas, these poems offer a tilted literary history in which the comforts of familiar lines are taken away by richly alien collisions.– Mary O’Donoghue, author of Among These Winters

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