House of Lords and Commons: Poems

Ishion Hutchinson. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $23 (96p) ISBN 978-0-374-17302-9
“History is dismantled music; slant,/ bleak on gravel,” Hutchinson (Far District) writes in a second collection that sees him profiting highly from Emily Dickinson’s dictum to tell the truth but tell it slant. In poetic suites more narrative and seamlessly associative than his previous work, Hutchinson melds Jamaica’s history of political strife and the lives of its citizens into sensuous evocations of landscape: “After the hurricane walks a silence, deranged, white as the white helmets of government surveyors looking into roofless/ shacks.” Hutchinson finds a dexterous register in which high and low diction strike sparks: “I mitre solid shadow, setting fire to snow in my ark./ I credit not the genie but the coral rock.” His eye for local color elevates neighbors and relatives into figures of archetypal resonance, and his biting precision captures “Pure echo in the train’s/ beam arriving on its cold nerve of iron.” Informed both by sonorous biblical cadence and a fibrous Saxon lexicon of canonical Western references, Hutchinson’s majestic lines snap like starched laundry in coastal wind: “drift-pocked, solitary/ ducks across the bay’s industrial/ ruts.” Yet this jaunty “ice-pick raconteur” is capable of stunning moments of visionary lyricism: “A soft light, God’s idleness/ warms the skin of the lake.” These poems herald the maturity of a major poetic voice. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/19/2016
Release date: 09/20/2016
Ebook - 978-0-374-71454-3
Paperback - 96 pages - 978-0-374-53728-9
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