Poem’s Poems & Other Poems (reviews)

Review from Amazon

5.0 out of 5 starsA Blue and White Convertible to Take You on a Spin  on September 12, 2016)

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
tisket, tasket
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!