Sunday, March 04, 2007

Review: 17 Minutes

17 Minutes
Matthew Hupert
Neuronautic Press
New York City, NY USA
18 pps, saddle-stitched, 4.25 x 5.5 inches

In this aptly named chapbook that takes about seventeen minutes to read, author Matthew Hupert has provided a number of short poems: haiku, tercets, tanka, limericks, and free verse. He mixes urban and the natural worlds with a distinctly modern funk that finds haiku-like details in all that he surveys, including what he sees from his fifth floor ‘patio’ (his neighbor’s rooftop). When Hubert resists the urge to tell us what he’s telling us and eschews clever rhyme and wordplay, his poems have a stark power.

Love Poem

“No,” you said
I hadn’t asked a question.

Some of his longer poems manage to maintain this succinctness to good effect:

When your eyes shark me

I dart
into the shoals of my
clam shelling a safe
place made from old scars
and known pains
inkjet arguments obscuring
my retreat so
I won’t
be your lunch

In ‘When your eyes shark me,’ there is no need for the poet to belabor the situation or to linger over his emotional state; the images are effective metaphors for a domestic dispute and its repercussions. There are no unnecessary words here; the poet trusts his art and his reader.

Unfortunately, not all the poems are this strong. Hubert reminds me of one of my other interests: minor league baseball. There is talent and hard work here, but errors, too. Part of the appeal of an emerging poet like Hubert is the hope you will get to see him grow before your eyes, then get promoted to the major leagues.


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