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Dead Men's Tales Paperback – October 16, 2010
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About the Author
Joe Hunt teaches at the University of Nevada, Reno—and/or Truckee Meadows Community College. He has been published in Rhino, The Eleventh Muse, Powhatan Review, and The Nevada Review, for example. He has a BA from Brigham Young, Utah and an MFA in poetry from UMass Amherst, Massachusetts—studying under Martín Espada and James Tate. Otherwise, he lives a mild-mannered existence with his wife Sarah and two daughters. (Sometimes he tells them night-night stories.)
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With enough monsters and madmen in his selections to do justice to Halloween weekend, college professor Joe Hunt read aloud from his new collection "Dead Men's Tale" at Sundance Bookstore on Friday and at Borders on Saturday.
"I woke up one morning with a vision," Hunt said, who teaches at both the University of Nevada, Reno and Truckee Meadows Community College. "I thought, `I have to do a Halloween reading.'"
Hunt divided his reading into segments, beginning with pirates, progressing to monsters and swamp creatures, and culminating with the grand finale -- a "bonus ghost story," as he called it -- "Felix Cube and the Fog Monster." He even drew illustrations on poster-sized paper to go along with his reading of the final tale.
Other elements of Hunt's quirky personality shone throughout the evening, both in his style of reading and, of course, in the poetry itself. He made a point of addressing the audience to explain potentially confusing references in his poems, such as "the Roger" (referring to the Jolly Roger, otherwise known as the Grim Reaper) and an allusion to a James Brown song. He was easy, open and humorous, taking on different voices for different speakers and even allowing for some audience participation.
His quirky sense of humor came through clearly in his poems. At the beginning of the evening, in the few minutes before the reading began, an audience member asked Hunt if he knew any Halloween jokes.
"All of the poems are jokes," he quipped, and he seemed to be summing up the evening's readings in one easy sentence.
In spite of their amusing qualities -- or perhaps because of them -- Hunt's poems also hinted at something deeper. While outwardly discussing Dracula and Frankenstein, they also delved into the root of the human condition and what motivates us to act. By approaching this age-old subject in a new, fresh way, Hunt's poems achieved what many others fail to do -- they catch their readers' attention and keep it.
"Most people don't like poetry," Hunt said. "I don't like regular poems."
Hunt's poems certainly can't be categorized as "regular." In what he chose to read from his collection, he touched on Dracula remembering what it is like to feel young again, why parrots are always the companions of pirates, the bride of Frankenstein, if radishes keep away vampires and so much more.
Most importantly, he seems to be following his own advice to readers: "If you don't like poetry, maybe you're reading the wrong stuff."
In this particular collection by Hunt, I am most fond of the poems somewhere in the middle of the text, RE: Frankenstein, Ghosts, and Witches respectively.
As a recent library science grad, I strongly recommend this book for personal and public library collections.