I want to respond to This Clumsy Living by Bob Hicok, the last book I successfully read in my Spring Break challenge (OKAY I TOOK ME TWO DAYS). However, I'm not sparkling or gushing or HELLYEAHING to life in general. I'm saying: I'm not sure I could do my honest feelings to this book goodstuffjustice.
But before I forget, I wanna say a few quick okay things about the book. Several of these poems struck me as drier than normal Hicok or perhaps just clashing with my expectations and because of my mood/life right now, I couldn't deal with it. However, this book contains some real gems, like "In Michael Robin's Class Minus One" and "My New Neighbor." These poems (HEY HE READ THOSE ALOUD DID THAT INFLUENCE MY READING OF THEM?) strike with the looseness called humor shaken into deep emotions, wrapped up in imagination and language play that make me go YEAHYEAHICOK.
I think a better response would be this poem I wrote and edited once after seeing Hicok:
I expected Hicok as a floating head
perhaps trailed by a heart on a string
like a nice kite. I expected Hicok to shout
not the way my Uncles shout when someone
leans against their truck, their emotions
kicking out exhaust, spiraling out in exhaustion
from all the years of back up. No, I expected
the poet who helped teach me that you can be
funny and caring to be both funny and caring
in a room full of people who felt the same way.
Imagine my shock when he stepped to the podium
read a dozen poems, with hardly a comment,
with hardly a smile, with hardly a breath.
Instead one big sigh, instead forty minutes
of words bending like a mouth into its various
shapes. I scribbled in my notebook the questions
to ask in the Q&A, the stories to tell in the meet
and greet, but I came up with talking about myself,
how I yearn to study with him at his school. And he said
what you gonna do in your year off? I said, find a shitty job
that’ll make me want to get to you even faster. I said, Sorry
for being weird. He said, Don’t tell them that when you apply.
I felt my body sway side to side like a wave goodbye.
When I got into the car, I saw the book was signed
Good luck getting into a school. He was laughing,
he was smiling, he was feeling the whole time.
The new issue of The Collagist is up. I'm so stoked to read that excerpt from Blake Butler's new novel when I get a little more free time. ANOTHER STELLAR ISSUE.
Speaking of The Collagist, I have a new interview with Christian Anton Gerard up at the blog.
TYLER FIELDS AND I TORE DOWN BLOOMINGTON I HOPE YOU DONT LIVE THERE IT IS TORN DOWN
But really, I was stoked to show him my favorite spots, introduce him to some of my Bloomington pals, and just be cool together.
Caveat Emptor Bookstore (Little Star by Mark Halliday (YEAH I KNOW RIGHT?) and The New Year of Yellow by Matthew Lippman)
Boxcar Books (THE WAILINGCOOL SINGER/BASSIST FROM GOOD LUCK WAS WORKING THERE WUZZZ; Elegy by Larry Levis and Fire to Fire by Mark Doty)
TD's (didn't have the Sleeping Bag cassette like I wanted, but cooldude Jared Cheek was working)
Landlocked Music (No Singles by Japandroids)
That crappy church disc golf course
Super host and awesome pal Darrin
Kailee and a wacky adventure to a mountain bike course
Zack and Naughty Dog (Bloomington's finest hot dogs)
It was a pleasure, relief, reboot, comfort.
Right now, I feel like someone stole all my discs, burned my books, and made me sit in a tree ALONE.