Best of Adroit: Matthew Thorburn, “The Green Hotel”

Below, check out Best of Adroit: 2010-2013 contributor Matthew Thorburn reading his poem “Green Hotel,” and be sure to check out the full issue this spring, online or in print!

This poem takes place at the top of Hallgrímskirkja, the largest (and probably the most striking) church in Iceland. From its observation deck, at the top of the steeple, you can look out across the city of Reykjavik all the way to the water. You can look down the streets and see the beautiful corrugated iron-clad houses in a rainbow of different colors. To walk those streets each day must be like living in a box of Crayola crayons.

My wife and I went to Iceland in 2006 for our honeymoon. This was in late June, and so – being so far north – it grew dim for a few hours each night, but basically was always light out. Rather than being disorienting, though, this just added to the slightly hard-to-believe, off-kilter feel of this wonderful country, which I have enjoyed going back to in this poem (and in many of the poems in my book, This Time Tomorrow).

For me, poems are a mix of memory and imagination, but here I took just a few liberties with what I actually saw that particular morning. Only the name of the hotel, which gives the poem its name, is made up, though that seemed alright to me: in a city of such colorful buildings, wouldn’t your hotel have to be green?

Matthew Thorburn is the author of three books of poems, most recently This Time Tomorrow (Waywiser, 2013) and Every Possible Blue (CW Books, 2012). “The Green Hotel” is part of a new manuscript in progress. He lives and works in New York City.

Peter LaBerge

Peter LaBerge founded The Adroit Journal in 2010, as a high school sophomore. His work appears in Crazyhorse, Harvard Review, Indiana Review, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review Online, Pleiades, and Tin House, among others. He is the recipient of a 2020 Pushcart Prize.

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