Thursday, April 29, 2010



A Musics by Carrie Hunter
(arrow as aarow, 2010)

“The mental anguish of finishing everything”—this line could be the raison d’etre for Carrie Hunter’s A Musics, a single-poem chap whose words/notes go on and on in an impressive abundance of high and low notes.

Yes, there are words (the poem's "Notes" says quotes are from Theodor Adorno: "Beethoven: The Philosophy of Music," and "Essays on Music", as well as that "--em-dashed phrases-- are lyrics from the songs"). But Hunter’s achievement is the stitching together of her own thoughts with various songs and Adorno’s musings to manifest a robust energy that draws the reader along as the music waxes and wanes viz the beat provided through words:
The three second rule.
The use of horns.

           What is primary that is usually secondary

The moment before the music starts.
Trying to retain a previousness.
I can make determinations also.

           You are in the wrong line,

air hell
synth nostalgia

nothing is inside            everything is inside
           The refrain fades

“all music consists of mere sounds”

It would be reductive, though, to say Hunter keeps our attention simply through an energy and musicality that do not flag—it would be reductive to posit this poem is based on “all music consist[ing] of mere sounds”. For there are too many intriguing well-wrought lines or turns-of-phrases that can make a reader return to ponder them individually, say

The plurality of the chorus.
The singularity of the chorus.
The song a question,
           The answer the gap between songs.

her diary            a glass of water

playing the wrong note on purpose

Every discrepancy is incremental

Thinking's elision

If this poem is a song—and I believe it to be; experiencing the reading of it could be described as "Hearing the music without the words / while hearing the words as music"—its beat indeed is “increased by the prevalence of the subject matter.”

Ultimately, Hunter’s poem textually manifests the visual metaphor (visual poem, too) on a page before the text-poem begins. The image is simply of three close-parentheses at the bottom of the page, on the right hand side (where, to finish reading what's at that location means to continue is possible only by immediately turning the page):

                       )                        )                        )

They don’t lie there static—they seem to pulsate, making you eagerly turn the page. That’s the effect of reading this poem—you eagerly turn each page wanting to read more. More! Before you know it, you’ve effortlessly read and relished 21 pages. And when A Musics stopped, it is one big bummer.

With A Musics, Carrie Hunter joins my list of poets whose poems will receive my future eager attention.


Eileen Tabios does not let her books be reviewed by Galatea Resurrects, but she is pleased to point you elsewhere to reviews of her newest book THE THORN ROSARY: Selected Prose Poems & New (1998-2010) over at Litter Magazine and at Tributary. The book's "Afterword" essay by Joi Barrios is also newly-available online at OurOwnVoice. If these reviews get you curious, please note that its publisher Marsh Hawk Press is supporting a fundraiser for Haiti relief by giving a free copy if you order at least $15 worth of booklets through the Hay(na)ku for Haiti fundraiser; as THE THORN ROSARY is priced retail at $19.95, this is one of the best bargains in the poetry world, even as it helps out with a Haiti fundraiser.

No comments: