14 October 2011

Ephemeron (Poems) by T. R. Hummer

In a work of startling originality, the T.R. Hummer's Ephemeron presents a meditation on ephemerality from the point of view of the ephemeron itself as it passes, be it the individual, the atom, the particle. Relentless in its stalking of the boundary between being and nonbeing, Hummer's work becomes a tour-de-force that shines a spotlight into dark corners of Being, revealing yet more darkness.


I'm not a poet.  In the sixth grade we had a poet in residency at my middle school.  He was there always present, a reminder of the great thoughts we should have been having.  He taught us for one hour everyday how to see as an artist, how to not think like an academic.  He was there in essence to set our souls free.  We did not study formal forms of poetry, we did not learn how many syllables should be in any specific line or how to bend the English language into rhyming loveliness.  We did however learn to 'see' and not 'think'.  We learned how to turn off our inner critic and simply allow the words to flow without judgement or criticism.   We slowly began to trust in our latent talent and we soared triumphant through the lines of text.  We created deep works of poetry using finger paint, crayons and strawberry icing. We painted our words in homemade gouache and in mud.  We used clouds in the sky as writing implements and we recorded it all down for posterity.  I, personally, think it was a great social experiment.  Perhaps the CIA was involved but I can't prove anything.  Needless to say that it all seems like a lot of hippy dippy non sense.  This was, however the eighties and not the sixties.   It was also the best class I ever took.  It taught me things about myself that I never would have learned other wise.  

For many years I didn't read a line of poetry unless it was printed on the inside of a birthday card.  Then a few months ago I purchase an audacious book for my daughter.  It was audacious because the author had the audacity to write the entire novel in verse.  All 3 hundred or so pages completely in rhyme.  It was amazing.  

So, I was on a poetry high.  Not that rhyming makes it poetry mind you.  Anyone can rhyme...that doesn't make them a poet.  Poetry has to touch the reader in some deep way.  Poetry has to stir up an image or feeling, an emotion that is not easily slogged off.   Poetry should probably make the reader slightly uncomfortable.  Like art.  It should make the observer think or feel.  This is the how and why I came to be reading TR Hummer.  His poems made me feel uneasy and reading them aloud to my husband was a largely different experience for us.  TR Hummer is an exceptional poet but like art poetry is best interpreted by the observer.  No two people will ever see a work of art the same way.  We all bring to the experience our own set of values and history making the experience wholly personal.  I don't believe that there is a right or wrong to poetry or art.  There is simply us.  The human observer and the human artist.  We struggle alone and desire to suffer together.  We share our experience hoping in some way to break down the barriers that keep us so intrinsically apart.  


T. R. Hummer is the author of nine books of poetry, including The Infinity Sessions and Bluegrass Wasteland: Selected Poems. He has been editor of Kenyon Review, New England Review, and Georgia Review. A native of Mississippi and longtime devotee and practitioner of jazz, he lives in Phoenix, where he teaches creative writing at Arizona State University.

* I received an advance copy from the publisher for purposes of review. I was in no way obligated to write a review much less a favorable one. The opinions stated herein are all my own.


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