Just as I don’t claim to know thoroughly most things we post about here on FG, I don’t claim to know well the state of contemporary poetry. And somehow, even while equally naive about all forms art, the idea of adding critical language or literary appraisal to the blurb-economy of the literature world feels particularly daunting. It‘s caused the delay of this feature quite a long while. Still, I know what I like and what I would like to see more of; what would, essentially, have me snatching up poetry chapbooks as rapidly as I can download music through Mediafire. Nathan Hauke’s chapbook, In the Living Room, marvels at that level.
Hauke’s debut poetry collection, published early last year by Lamehouse, is, despite its humble binding (essentially paper and blue string), one of the most arresting and gorgeous works I can remember reading. His poetry seems not to have any qualms about adjusting its form in order to go where it needs to go. A subtly hybridized work that moves nimbly from the heavy, paragraph-style blocks of prose to variously formatted lines of standard verse, Hauke’s poetry somehow transcends my often conventional notions of poetry – and fiction for that matter – and reaches into an ether-space, a space where reading feels like experiencing something different than reading. Hauke’s perspective, or the window with which he frames that perspective, is without a glass pane, allowing the heat and cold of his poetry, both physical and philosophical, to affect the experience. The smells are more vivid. The colors unburdened by glass-refracted light. It feels like an experience purer than most. That's the only way I can think to describe it.
I inevitably feel that my own inadequacies in writing, about poetry or otherwise (not intelligent enough, not written well enough), will somehow affect the basis of my recommendation: that I don’t know enough to say so. Whether or not that’s truly the case, In the Living Room is something I can strongly, without reserve, recommend. Below is one of the poems featured from In the Living Room, "Pastoral: Like a Trick of the Eye," a poem that, like all of Hauke’s work, has life inside of you long after you re-read it (because, invariably, you will want to re-read and re-read these poems). In the Living Room can be ordered here.
It should probably be noted that Nathan Hauke taught me in my first creative writing class at the University of Utah and that I consider him, without question, a good friend. The more familiar that I become with his work, the more strongly I feel that he is truly a remarkable, honest, humble and kind individual.