John Ashbury judged the 2013 Walt Whitman Award and it shows. If you like John Ashbury or most post modern poetry you will like Chris Hosea's Put Your Hands In. If you are looking for a fresh approach to poetry, however, this is not your book.
Put Your Hands In is clever and fun. But original it is not. This is a collection where meaning can be found if searched for, but meaning is less important than sound. These poems are meant to be read aloud and in one sitting, which puts it in a tradition stretching back to Gertrude Stein. Some poems are collage poems in that they borrow phrases from elsewhere - newspaper clippings, other poetry, random conversations - and then mix them up pell mell to come up with something other. Some are composed entirely of half-finished sentences, an approach that is fun for the writer and interesting for the reader. The prose poems are effective, yet the most clever and thought-provoking piece, for me, is "Black Steel" which harkens to concrete or visual poetry.
Hosea here presents to us a crash course in 20th century poetics. Perhaps in an effort to convince himself or the reader that these approaches are still relevant in America today, he has heavily laced them with 21st century references to the digital. The result seems forced - not quite pretentious, but at least a little desperate.
Still, it is a delight of sound. Rhythm and alliteration ask you to consider the sound of everyday, even sometimes vulgar, language over the sense. Revel in cacophony and noise. Just don't expect to hear anything new.
Buy Get Your Hands In at Amazon.
Legal Disclosure: I did not receive anything in exchange for this review nor have any affiliation with those involved in the book's making.