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The Trees The Trees

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0980193879
ISBN-10: 0980193877
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Editorial Reviews


If you're thinking about a new tattoo, may I recommend dropping your finger onto any random phrase in Heather Christle's new book? That's how keen her ear for the off-the-cuff aphorism is, how neatly her lines break into glistening parts. You get the impression of the oracle at Delphi trying her hand at stand-up or jamming the broadcast of the nightly news: Christle's gift for welding surreal visions to living speech rhythms keeps unlocking new surprises, page after page. At least once per poem, you feel like the triple-bars just lined up in the slot-machine window, and you laugh or cry out --John Darnielle

Heather Christle's second collection, The Trees The Trees, is ecstatic, breathless, full of incandescent humor and wonder, full of miniature moment s hums, pocked with graceful elisions and gasps; there is spell bound play and intense intimacy in each gap toothed, center-justified prose poem. Read and love her seemingly spontaneous utterances spun from her rapt attention to daily life, nature, solitude, romance, to her own reeling and enchanting imagination. --Cathy Park Hong

About the Author

Heather Christle is the author of What Is Amazing (Wesleyan University Press, 2012), THE TREES THE TREES (Octopus Books, 2011) and THE DIFFICULT FARM (Octopus Books, 2009), and a chapbook, The Seaside! (Minutes Books, 2010). Her poems have appeared widely in publications including The Believer, Boston Review, Gulf Coast, and The New Yorker. She has taught at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and at Emory University, where she was the 2009-2011 Creative Writing Fellow. She is the Web Editor for jubilat and frequently a writer in residence at the Juniper Summer Writing Institute. A native of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, she lives in Western Massachusetts.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 60 pages
  • Publisher: Octopus Books (July 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0980193877
  • ISBN-13: 978-0980193879
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #841,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Listening to Heather Christle read her poems (I watched this video on Youtube for a sense of her voice), it's hard to say anything particularly negative about her poetry—while the voice in her center-justified ramblings plays at flippancy and coy disregard for expectation, her public speaking seems so meek and inward facing that she might burst into tears at any moment.

That doesn't mean I'm going to pull my punches, but it did give me a different perspective on the voice her poetry was aiming for, and what my take on it might be as a result.

To be completely honest, I'm torn about The Trees The Trees. Getting halfway into the collection, I felt almost tangibly frustrated—through nothing other than intuition, it seemed to me like Christle was simply vomiting words onto the page and calling it poetry. Her diction is simple, almost rudimentary, and she ambles and jumps between subjects and off-camera allusions with no rhyme or reason. Sometimes she tries to be snarky. Sometimes she tries to be sincere. I take it, from the blurb on the back-cover, she's almost always trying to be funny, but I didn't find myself laughing at all. I was pretty much ready to abandon the collection when I stumbled into some of the poems in the middle.

From a poem entitled 'PARALLELOGRAPH':

"everything is possible / and not happening / to me in this plausible room / despite the five thousand ways you might reach me / the phone is not ringing"


There are a few moments like this right in a row, and they were enough to make me sit up, catch my breath, and grapple with the idea that this book might have some force in it after all.
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Format: Paperback
You know that omniscient narrator you read about in your Introduction to Literature class? The one who knows everything that's happening in the story? Imagine what would happen if you gave that narrator a microphone. And you said, Now, you're a speaker. Speak! Now, you're a tree. Speak! Now you're lonely or funny or 8 years old or a nail-gun or an enemy or the kind of person who dwells on having enemies or water or a hand-bag. And now none of us care what you are, we just want you to speak. Speak! Speak!!

Because that's the impulse behind The Trees The Trees. Speech. Whatever comes to mind. Whatever realistic boundaries can be blurred or eliminated or redefined. And, to be clear, with a declarative sentence, it's very convenient to set anything to be anything else. Language is that easy. It's the most efficient thing in our language! I mean if you're half-hedgehog, half-man, and you want to become a tree, use your words. Say it, don't draw it. Drawing it makes it too complicated. And let me assure you, these are Christle's instructions. My instructions: be grateful this book of poems exists! Get thee to Christle!

In fact, with The Trees The Trees, saying anything feels like the easiest, most fantastic activity anyone ever thought of. It's like saying could get you out of anything. Are you stuck inside a room? Just say you're not in the room. Do you miss your friends? Say you're eavesdropping on them from a safe distance. Are you afraid of flying? Say the sun. It's like that omniscient narrator I mentioned at the beginning has been given the chance to experience a more realistic self who has boundaries, who's maybe human. Maybe not human, but a tree instead. Maybe a tree with a long list of things to do.
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Format: Paperback
Heather Christle’s book of poems, The Trees The Trees, seems to casually present us with an overview of modern human experience. These poems discuss love and individuality and what it feels like to interact with the universe and other humans. The interesting part is that Christle writes about such broad topics in little bite-sized poems that are riddled with silences and pauses. Her poems seem to need these silences, because every word in every poem is so powerful and so carefully chosen, that the poems need to breathe; they need some room for expansion. These spaces feel like Christle’s encouragement for readers to fill them in with our own backgrounds of human experience—we become the fillers to these spaces as well as the receivers of their invisible meaning.
Not only do these poems breathe on the page, through their very form, but this idea of breathing and exhaling is evident in the content of the poems as well. Words like “unbounded” and “boundaries” appear throughout the collection; the poems themselves seem to stretch their own boundaries, tearing holes in themselves for the reader to experience (to find meaning in the silence). Christle seems interested in “unbinding” the self and letting it expand into “space”. She seeks to subvert the conception of humans as bounded entities by showing that by making mistakes, by seeking out adventure, by living, we burst out of our constructed confinement—Christle shows us that only by trying and failing can we realize the multiplicity and trueness of our “selves”. As long as we are trying, moving forward, we are continuing to grow and to break free of imposed constraints on the self.
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