Matthew Hittinger is an artist. He is able to paint with words intimate still lifes focused on one object - a pear - and make each of the eight poems in this small but treasurable book an experience the reader will use as a pause to enjoy, yes, but to also become more acutely attuned to the simple things in our lives that deserve our attention.
Hittinger introduces his observations and responses to the pear in a set of four brief statements 'Preface: Pear Poetics' in which he grapples with the individuality of the pear as a shape mistaken for an apple, reminding us of the antiquity of the fruit as 'a hollow teardrop in Eve's neck, a hardened lump in Adam's throat', and pays homage to the pear's unique defining shape 'Do not come to pears with a preconceived idea of what form is. They will elude you; Let the pears realize their form to you. Abandon will. Give in to the pears' way of seeing.' And with this introduction he continues on every page to address every aspect of the pear from scent to taste, to form in art, to variations in types ('Comice, Forelle, Anjou, Bosc, Seckel, Packham'), manner of packing in named crates, even making the shape of a pear out of words as in 'Silkscreen: Pome in a Bowl.'
At times playful, at times irreverent, and at other times reverential, Hittinger's writing style is visual and visceral, making the most of confining his attention to one loved inanimate object: '...peach, brown, cream/ reflected beneath each pear in chunks/ of red, vermilion, lemon: lights of a party-float,/ bathers drying off. pears sloughing color/ as light particles strike the atoms in the skin, surface/ of object feathered. Squint your eyes/ and a photograph takes form, what van Gogh saw/and repeated:....'
If Matthew Hittinger can create such extended beauty with one subject, he makes us hungry for more expanded topics. This is a small treasure of a book. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, January 09