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Or Consequence Paperback – April 1, 2010
The Amazon Book Review
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Always a pioneer, with Or Consequence Cynthia Hogue enters new realms of visionary, speculative intelligence. She has become a student of "nubilous, light-flecked water," of consciousness as ontological and historical field. Her brilliantly complex poems vibrate with the absorptions and surprise of unbidden confrontations. They are supremely attentive fictions, awake to the reciprocities of love, power, karma, listening, trust, and memory, accountable to the expansive transformations of generosity and the most nuanced particulates of thought and feeling. "Consequence" broadens to include the gap between cause and effect, intention and expression, a terrain so ample it embraces pathos, tragedy, exaltation, and even comic associations as phrases eroded by use are rewired and weirded into freshness. This is a poetry of conscience, but Hogue's witnessing is delicate rather than didactic, rich with insurrections of mind and language. She is, moreover, an intensely visual poet whose subtle and various use of white space recalls the many forms of emptiness enumerated in Buddhism. I can think of no recent book that better suggests the turbulent and sublime possibilities of poetry. —Alice Fulton
With Or Consequence a gentleness is thrust into the clamor which does not diminish the firmness wherein these lines lie in waiting, asserting the historical record here, imagining the human options there: “Upon which so much.” –C.D. Wright
Cynthia Hogue finessing her materials with such wishful genius, chiasmically asking the pure questions: how to create space upon habitually imbruted ground, all the while Beauty, in an arched fold awaits us. —Lissa Wolsak
About the Author
Cynthia Hogue has published five previous collections of poetry, including The Incognito Body (Red Hen Press 2006). She is the co-editor of Innovative Women Poets: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry and Interviews (2006), and of the first edition of H.D.’s The Sword Went Out to Sea (Synthesis of a Dream), by Delia Alton (2007). She has received Fulbright, NEA (poetry), and NEH (Summer Seminar) Fellowships. In 2005, she was awarded the H.D. Fellowship at the Beinecke Library at Yale University, and in 2007, a MacDowell Colony Residency Fellowship. In 2008, she was awarded an Arizona Commission on the Arts Artists Project Grant for a multigenre project of interviews with Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Hogue taught in the MFA program at the University of New Orleans before moving to Pennsylvania, where she directed the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University for eight years. While in Pennsylvania, she trained in conflict resolution with the Mennonites and became a trained mediator specializing in diversity issues in education. In 2003, she joined the Department of English at Arizona State University as the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry.
Top customer reviews
"New Orleans Suite," the Second Section of "Or Consequence," comprises three poems based on historical events. Spiritualists once hired themselves out (with a scribe for recording the evening's disclosures in a log) for seances in hotels in New Orleans. It appears they liked to "channel" abolitionists, French philosophers, and other radical and subversive voices into the New Orlean's discourse of the times! Themes of unmarked possibility and erasure seem to be marked on the white spaces of the pages themselves. A historical figure pursues legal liberty, insists through, and vanishes. An era and a place channels the dreams of the values of the Enlightenment into America and is almost lost. A city endures levels of erasure. Moral, historical, firm, poetic ground is established; and as quickly gives way. Hogue is a poet who understands that dialectics both sharpen and blind us. She evokes the notion of "being there" and quickly follows with that of "not being there." Meanwhile, she nevers ceases to ask "Why is this here? And, what does it mean? "New Orleans Suite" is both a minute and vast range for the imagination.
France plays a role in many of the poems. In many ways, it is an emblematic place of poetic struggle for universal virtues: Liberté, égalité, fraternité. It is a place of poetic dignity. A place of poetic pilgrimage. A source that once "dreamt of" and then "opted for" change; and, as such, becomes an expression of consequences. First rate poems by a first rate poet!
It is the absent with which Hogue most intently deals in this collection, and it is the absent truth which she most determinedly addresses. Beyond that this poetry is about that which is lost, erased, and perhaps unmentioned. Nowhere is this emphasis more clear than in the second section of the collection, four poems that deal with New Orleans, its history and the devastation of Katrina. "Under Erasure (New Orleans 2005/New York 2007)" is about a search for a unique memorial to the hurricane victims (and survivors) in New York City. It starts with the protagonist coming out of the subway and being lost. Then a brief reference, which I found to be so close to the kernel of this book. "A homeless vet called out/ Did not turn at sound/ (Don't see. Don't hear.)" In the book the word vet is crossed out to emphasize the absence of the homeless.
If I have a qualm about Or Consequence it is the use of such visual techniques, which necessarily are themselves lost in the spoken poem. But is that not part of the lesson here, that language is itself such an inarticulate method of communication that there is an ongoing process of interpretation that accompanies the use of words. This failure to make room for such interpretation is what makes it so difficult to deal with bureaucracy, a difficulty presented in "The Green Card is Not Green."
But the stamp must be delivered not anywhere
in the Homeland but only at Home. Why
is never explained but "that" is repeated often:
That that that that that that that that that
that that that
that that that.
Yet it is so important that we reach a sharing of experience; and language, however imperfect and requiring of interpretation, is part of that process. In "On Bumps River" the poet juxtaposes the need for language with its inability to truly confront that which is ineffable. On the one hand we have something as simple as a child's using language to complain of the cold and the narrator complaining of going in circles; on the other we have a fish, wordless, caught in the talons osprey. "The fish is sailing out of sight/ and does not think, or move,/ and will not close its eyes."
So we humans strive to communicate, and Hogue celebrates the effort. In the end she makes us aware that this grand effort is truly worthy. She does this in a series of etudes that are distributed through the volume. Hogue starts the volume with "Etude(on Love)." "the `u' having replaced the `I'/ like a `without which Thou / I could not be'"
In the end Hogue offers us hope, especially the hope that we can overcome the gap which language leaves between us.
What we know is
hope, and say, We are
hopeful, we have hope.
Reviewed by Kenneth Weene whose new novel, Memoirs From the Asylum, can be ordered here on Amazon. [...]