Fjords Reviews

HOME | BOOK REVIEWS | Put Your Hands In by Chris Hosea
Put Your Hands In by Chris Hosea
Share Button

 

Fjords Review, Put Your Hands In

Poetry
Put Your Hands In
by Chris Hosea

Louisiana State University Press
194 pages
ISBN: 978 0 8071 5585 1

 

by Christina M. Rau

 

John Ashbery judged the 2013 Walt Whitman Award for the Academy of American Poets and it’s no wonder why he selected Chris Hosea’s collection as the winner. The poems create a different way of looking at people and things, infusing the New York School vibe of anti- and alternative-narrative throughout. The pieces confuse and delight and reveal in a mostly successful way.

With little punctuation and a lot of enjambment in the first verse poems, specific sensory detail builds colorful worlds that may seem confusing at first. In “Choose Stutter Brie” lurk “a few cultured girls (not many, it’s true) / swirled cocktails with red swizzles / / made listless by the clanging air.” Beginning there and in “One Of These Girls,” he traces through family (grandmother, wife, sister, mother), former dates and “vacuum women.” The female appears subtly through verse and prose poems and verse again. The observations are genuine and mostly kind.

A group of prose poems shifts the focus to relatives, each one a dossier concerning character, revealing a specific moment, conflict, or object that represents the whole, a type of synecdoche with the inanimate and abstract. “Granddaddy Old Grand Dad” begins, “In a pickle jar. Designed to grow molds. . . On wheels without wheels within them” (a reference to Seamus Heaney). It ends “Tendrils furled in parlors. Inky. Wait for the mood to lift. No, lift it.” Though not a narrative, this box of poetry uses details that others may ignore and allusion to define character. Hosea develops cadence through fragments within this prose poetry.

While these poems are distinctive, some poems in the second half (pp. 44–51) meld into each other using lists of images. This blur is not necessarily purposeful or positive. Instead of the success found in the prose poems, these become words on words on words and lead to getting lost, not in the good way. Also distracting are the references to hyper-contemporary technology that simply does not seem to fit: iPhones, Facebook, Uggs, Instagram, and Yelp take away from the surrealist-like scenes.

In “Roof Garden Heritage Site,” Hosea mentions Gertrude Stein to no surprise as her influence becomes apparent. He shows their love of words further: from “The Barn Party:” I am going to / welcome … plaints, / pleats, ripped faces, / … so I made lists / and lost in the fall;” from “Hard Drive Scrub:” “what’s hidden in fat slacks power dons” and “subtropical fairly spread / . . . blooms fairy of death.” From here to the end, the poems grow fast, using a lack of punctuation again to crush forward with no time for actual emotion except perhaps anxiety about the need to include all words and all influences (Carver, Plath, Eliot), kind of like Whitman but with shorter lines and fewer-ing verbs.

“Across Boss Desk,” a poem that crosses the page with indents, breaks, and caesurae, and “Purple Snow Purple Snow,” a Whitmanian-Ashberian sprawl, both draw together all motifs in this collection: women, travel, sound, drugs, protest, music, family, and city. That’s the world. That’s life. All at once from all angles.

Archives

And Then by Donald Breckenridge

Dear Everyone by Matt Shears

Magic City Gospel by Ashley M. Jones

Intimacy by Stanley Crawford

Lunch Poems by Deborah Kuan

The Best American Poetry 2016

One with the Tiger by Steven Church

Crosstalk by Connie Willis

The King of White Collar Boxing by David Lawrence

They Were Coming for Him by Berta Vias-Mahou

Verse for the Averse: a Review of Ben Lerner’s The Hatred of Poetry

That Other Me by Maha Gargash

Simone by Eduardo Lalo

Swimming by Karl Luntt

Ghost/ Landscape by Kristina Marie Darling and John Gallaher

Enchantment Lake by Margi Preus

Bad Light by Carlos Castán

Diaboliques by Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly

Staying Alive by Laura Sims

Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo

Fireflies by John Leland

Maze of Blood by Marly Youmans

Tender the Maker by Christina Hutchkins

Little Anodynes by Jon Pineda

Conjuror by Holly Sullivan McClure

Someone's Trying To Find You by Marc Augé

The Four Corners of Palermo by Giuseppe Di Piazza

Now You Have Many Legs to Stand On by Ashley-Elizabeth Best

The Knowledge by Robert Peake

The Darling by Lorraine M. López

How To Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes

Watershed Days: Adventures (A Little Thorny and Familiar) in the Home Range by Thorpe Moeckel

[INSERT] BOY by Danez Smith

Demigods on Speedway by Aurelie Sheehan

Find Me by Laura Van Den Berg

Singing Bones by Kate Schmitt

Knuckleball by Tom Pitts

Wandering Time by Luis Alberto Urrea

Teaching a Man to Unstick His Tail by Ralph Hamilton

Domenica Martinello: The Abject in the Interzones

Control Bird Alt Delete by Alexandria Peary

Twelve Clocks by Julie Sophia Paegle

Love You To a Pulp by C.S. DeWildt

Even Though I Don’t Miss You by Chelsea Martin

Women by Chloe Caldwell

Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis

ESSAY 2:12 A.M. by Kat Meads

Revising The Storm by Geffrey Davis

Quality Snacks by Andy Mozina

Nature's Confession by J.L. Morin

Midnight in Siberia by David Greene

Strings Attached by Diane Decillis

Down from the Mountaintop: From Belief to Belonging by Joshua Dolezal

The New Testament by Jericho Brown

You Don't Know Me by James Nolan

Phoning Home: Essays by Jacob M. Appel

Words We Might One Day Say by Holly Karapetkova

Murder by Danielle Collobert

Sorrow by Catherine Gammon

The Americans by David Roderick

I Think I Am in Friends-Love With You by Yumi Sakugawa

Third Wife by Jiri Klobouk

box of blue horses by Lisa Graley

Review of Hilary Plum’s They Dragged Them Through the Streets

The Sleep of Reason by Morri Creech

The Hush before the Animals Attack by Carol Matos

Regina Derieva, In Memoriam by Frederick Smock

American Neolithic by Terence Hawkins

Review of The House Began to Pitch by Kelly Whiddon

Hill William by Scott McClanahan

Seamus Heaney Aloft

The Bounteous World by Frederick Smock

Review of The Tide King by Jen Michalski

Going Down by Chris Campanioni

Review of Empire in the Shade of a Grass Blade by Rob Cook

Review of The Day Judge Spencer Learned the Power of Metaphor

Review of The Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish

Review of Life Cycle Poems by Dena Rash Guzman

Review of Saint X by Kirk Nesset

Review of Jessica Treadway's Please Come Back to Me

Eve Asks by Christine Redman-Waldeyer