John Matthias is an American poet. He was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1941 and attended the Ohio State University and Stanford University. At Stanford he studied under the poet and critic Yvor Winters, but did not conform to Winters' stringent anti-modernist position. In fact, Matthias became deeply interested in modernism, especially English modernism, which he came to know well during many years of residence in England. His peers at Stanford included two future poets laureate of the United States, Robert Hass and Robert Pinsky, as well as the poets Ken Fields, James McMichael, and John Peck.
Influences include John Berryman, Ezra Pound, and perhaps most importantly, the Anglo-Welsh poet David Jones, on whose work Matthias has edited two books.
Matthias' books include: Bucyrus, (1970); Turns (1975); Crossing (1979); Northern Summer (1984); A Gathering of Ways (1991); Beltane at Aphelion (1995); Swimming at Midnight (1995); Pages (2000); "Working Progress, Working Title" (2002); and New Selected Poems (2004) and Kedging (2007).
In 2004 an issue of Samizdat (poetry magazine) was devoted to commentary on his work.
Major scholarly works on Matthias' poetry include the books Word Play Place: Essays on the Poetry of John Matthias (1998) edited by Robert Archambeau and The Salt Companion to John Matthias (2011) edited by Joe Francis Doerr. There is a substantial chapter on Matthias' poetry in Archambeau's study Laureates and Heretics (University of Notre Dame Press, 2010).
Matthias excels in the writing of longer poems, and works in a new version of the modernist idiom. He has also translated the work of several Swedish poets, including Jesper Svenbro, and the Serbian epic poem The Battle of Kosovo.