In our increasingly pixelated world, nothing rusts. Nothing is lost. No one dies. Place and time seemingly disappear. But place does not disappear—even as it continually shifts in its features, its implications. And time, as it passes, becomes history, memory. Place and time persist. Many of the poems in Fault Lines recall small town and rural California as it was in the 1950s and 1960s. In part they are attempts to remember things as they were. In part they are attempts to understand the role of memory in making a usable past. In part they are attempts to map things that seemingly no longer matter in this pixelated world but do matter.
Some of the work gathered in Fault Lines dates back to when I was first writing. “California Coast (Sonoma County” and “Lake County Diamond” are two of these pieces. These earlier poems were recast when I returned to writing after the long break discussed elsewhere. The rest of the poems were written in the four or five years leading up to the collection’s publication.
Iterations of what became Fault Lines were a finalist for the May Swenson Poetry Award (Utah State University Press), the Frederick Morgan Poetry Prize and the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize (both Story Line Press), the Holland Prize (Logan House Press), the Saint Lawrence Book Award (Black Lawrence Press); and semifinalist for the Cleveland State University Poetry Center First Book Prize.
Clicking the thumbnail to the left (and thanks to John Hunt, cover designer extraordinaire, for the great design) will take you to the page for Fault Lines at The Backwaters Press with ordering information. The store on this site (accessible using the menu at the top of the page) includes an option for ordering this title (free postage? Yep. And sale prices through June 10. A raffle on a rusted steam tractor, too?).
The strength of Tim Hunt’s nature poems drew me into this book. His observation of light, rocks, a hawk and a field mouse in “High Desert Summer,” a California landscape, is so intense that he seems to long to become part of it:
This time I could stop,
walk into the brittled sage
and wait for the heat
to make me its own.
But I would still not be
calibrated to the rock’s
dance, or the flinch into stillness
deeper than fear.
Then come the poems honoring and loving his family, whose history is made up of men and women “getting by,” “learning to make do,” acquiring “that tricky pride of the poor—the failing that is success.” Here is a poet standing on the threshold of existence, acutely aware of the humans, both living and dead, existing in the rooms behind him, but wanting, “other times,” the consolation of nature
…to wander away from the voices, down
the chipped cement steps to the different
shade of the black walnut, its emptier heat
of rock and thistle, the dirt redder than rust,
and be again alone in that way
By Robert McDowell on September 23, 2010
Tim Hunt’s Fault Lines is a book I wanted to publish the last few years I worked at Story Line Press, but I was never able to do so. That’s why it’s such a thrill to hold a copy from The Backwaters Press.
Hunt is a poet who truly knows the “silence beneath the stories/where we learn the things that matter most.” This is knowledge that is deeper than book learning. It’s akin to the ritual and spells passed on from generation to generation among the Celts. It’s a wisdom awareness that comes of living life close to the seasons and the earth. It’s a humbling awareness of the heavens above and the deep chasms, recesses, and memories below our feet.
A great scholar and student of Robinson Jeffers, Hunt in these poems joins his mentor as a guardian and oracle of our deepest memories. Whether his ostensible subject is fifties television, peace marches, fishing, language, or jeans, Hunt gracefully guides us from the topical to timeless reconnections with lives past, lives only partially understood, and landscapes we’ve forgotten but need back if we’re ever to evolve into the shining people we’re meant to be.
Hunt’s is a chronicling, questing poetry. It’s quiet strength and maturity hold a cultural and historical space for us that a lot of the chattering, flippant writing all around us simply cannot do. The poems in Fault Lines arrest us. They say, Slow down. Remember what it felt like to breathe deeply, consider quietly, and reflect?
What a pleasure to meet that here, now.
–Robert McDowell, […] and […] is the author of the bestselling Poetry As Spiritual Practice: Reading, Writing, and Using Poetry in Your Daily Rituals, Aspirations, and Intentions (Free Press/Simon & Schuster), and the forthcoming The More We Get Together: The Sexual and Spiritual Language of Love (Feb. 2011).