Put Your Hands In

Chris Hosea. Louisiana State Univ., $18.95 trade paper, (84p) ISBN 978-0-8071-5585-1
Selected by John Ashbery as the winner of the 2013 Walt Whitman Award, Hosea's debut collection juggles sexualized imagery, contemporary and historical pop cultural references, and an inventive approach to language that is as relentlessly provocative as it is approachable. In Hosea's destabilizing voice, lines rush into one another and the familiar is rendered less so through a process of accumulation and juxtaposition. "I am/ wanting a miasma of nostalgia I am/ wanting to touch I am/ wanting to both touch and look/ so very sorry for myself and you too," he writes in "Occupy Street," the repetition of "I am" becoming as much a barrier as a gateway to any sort of confession or sense of identity. Grounding such work, if not completely resolving its disparate tendencies, is an explosive vernacular and a fractured diction: a stanza from "Hard Drive Scrub" begins "open it mouth it bites it," the words seemingly spitting back at the reader, "circling and plunging, hover however/ furling huge blooms fairy of death." Sometimes charming, sometimes dangerous, Hosea's poems effectively play off of their contradictions: "the most beautiful birdsong I've heard// continues when lightbulbs come on." (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/2014
Release date: 03/01/2014
Open Ebook - 96 pages - 978-0-8071-5586-8
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