The poems in Poem’s Poems, both those featuring Poem as their hero and those that do not, tend to treat the figural as literal and the literal as figural. If there is a model for Poem in the pieces that trace his misadventurous adventures, it is perhaps Frog from Arnold Lobel’s picture book series for children, Frog and Toad, but if Poem is Frog in this equation, I can’t, I confess, figure out what happened to Toad.
I’m tempted to echo Mark Twain’s warning to readers of Huck Finn: that those attempting to find meaning in these pieces will be shot. The current state of politics argues against such a comment, and even worse that move would seem but a coy ploy to declare the existence of meanings by denying their existence.
This link [link!] will flip you over to the web page at CW Books (Poem’s publisher) with some sample poems from the collection, including Poem debuting his skinny jeans after shopping the Gap and Poem ordering an espresso, along with a piece that evokes (of all things) Duck Dynasty and another remembering Maynard G. Krebs from the 1950s sitcom Dobie Gillis.
Clicking the thumbnail to the left (and thanks to John Hunt, cover designer extraordinaire, for the great design) will take you to the CW Books page with links for ordering Poem’s Poems. The store on this site (accessible using the menu at the top of the page) should, soon, offer the option of ordering the book directly from Poem’s own private stash. Poem promises a steal of a deal. Gonna, he says, be “yuge.”
The animating spirit of Hunt’s new collection is Poem, a metapoetic persona whose quest for self-definition yields a series of—you guessed it—poems in which a folksy wisdom is pitted against literary fashion in gesturing toward a “beyond / beyond mere form.” Be’s are bopped, rock is rolled, spurs are jingle-jangle-jingled as Poem cuts the rug of aesthetic idioms from the past century while the new century’s selfies lay siege. Pay attention. – Joe Amato
I have been a fan of Tim Hunt’s writing since we were students at Cornell University. This new collection of poems, which stars a character named “Poem,” never fails to energize, challenge, and amuse the reader. I hope the book will be submitted for Pulitzer Prize consideration. It deserves an award. – James Bertolino
Tim Hunt’s newest collection of poems is playful and irreverent, yet literate and contemplative. His persona—the poem as, well, Poem—is always somewhere that he doesn’t quite belong, or is always asking the “wrong” questions, yet ultimately charms us with his love of both illusions and allusions. From a plea to include Slim Gaillard in the Norton Anthology to imagistic evocations of Ezra Pound, questions of canonicity and the literary past—especially the Beats—hover here and demand attention. Highly recommended. – Deborah R. Geis
Review from Amazon:
The cover of Tim Hunt’s new book features a quasi–pop art version of a vintage auto that could be a Ford or a Chevy convertible. Its blue and white front end is headed toward you; its headlights appear to be turned on—at night a full moon rises above hills in the background. On the passenger side of the car a bumper sticker reads “Trope Tripping”; on the driver’s side the sticker reads “Ez for Prez”—what a revolting idea, as bad as Donald J. Trump! (I only wish the person who created this book’s striking cover art were acknowledged.)
Like many American poets of this century, Hunt is obsessed with Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Wallace Stevens. Lately his poems have settled down. Originally a northern Californian, he’s kicked around, written books about Golden Stater Robinson Jeffers, and ended up in the Midwest long enough to call southern Illinois his home. He continues to write in the plainspoken American style of the 1970s. Brandishing his acerbic wit, in this new collection he describes his main character, a down-home person named Poem, as “feeling Bill Williams folksy.”
Whether, as in his previous book, he indulged in his Asian-American Tao of Twang, or a madcap character named T. Texas Twiddle, Hunt kicked up his poetic heels like a Lone Star line dancer. The same irreverent humor and high spirits infuse this third full-length collection, which features another off-the-wall character; now he’s named Poem. Hunt’s slightly recondite book title refers to poems written by a guy name Poem—hence Poem’s Poems. There’s a piece about Poem ordering an espresso, along with a “Coffeehouse Soliloquy”; there’s a piece about Poem ordering a glass of Chardonnay. Although computers and IT don’t come under consideration here, this book is a kind of hand-held device, a platform for images of contemporary pop culture.
As with his previous book, I prefer poems outside what I could call The Main Shtick, i.e., Hunt’s stuff about Tao and twang and—in this collection—his stuff about Poem. Let me quote two fragments from one of my faves:
Back Road, Central Illinois
On this road, a tree
is an event—an abrupt
snarl of branches,
uppity. . . .
I have known trees
that sing jazz
scatting like Ella
green and yellow basket
I find these lines memorable; they go beyond what I’ve called acerbic wit—even with the word “uppity.” Best of all, the last two lines in the second section make a geezer like me cup my ears in my hands and listen for music I haven’t heard in a long while.
Whatever. Hunt is lively, sometimes to a fault. He’s no slouch in the Humor Department. Let his blue and white convertible make you laugh and take you on a spin!