Until the Awards Ceremony on April 13, we are featuring all of the 2015 Oregon Book Awards finalists. The winners will be announced at the Oregon Book Awards ceremony on April 13 at the Gerding Theater at the Armory. Join us! You can purchase tickets at Brown Paper Tickets.
2015 Oregon Book Awards Finalist
About the book:
Endi Bogue Hartigan’s Pool [5 choruses] takes the reader into a porous realm where singular and multiple voices fuse. In the context of high levels of public noise—reportage on the last decade of U.S. wars, elections, economics, more—the voices of these poems ask the reader to “separate out the chorus from the noise, separate us.” A journey into the accruals, interstices, separations and resistances of pooled and individual song, Hartigan’s poems explore the lyrical voice as a physical stream of sensual sound. How do we distinguish personal cry from choral cry, the “fragile, wet word of the spirit” from an over-lit or collective presence? Where does noise become its own form of silence? What is it to name perception—a local parade, a loved one, a singular shade of yellow—within a continually recalibrating multiplicity? This music moves through a complex intimacy–a world in which a woman’s reflection is never still, and a nation’s reflection is never still—and where the spectral, dizzying stage light holds a familial back yard and a choral shroud simultaneously.
About the author:
Endi Bogue Hartigan is author of Pool [5 choruses], selected by Cole Swensen for the Omnidawn Open Prize and released from Omnidawn in April 2014, and One Sun Storm, selected for the 2008 Colorado Prize for Poetry and a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Her work has appeared in magazines and anthologies as well as a collaborative chapbook, out of the flowering ribs, created with artist Linda Hutchins. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, poet Patrick Playter Hartigan, and son Jackson.
Excerpt from Pool [5 choruses]
We cannot help ourselves
but believe. Look what people do.
We cannot help ourselves to
believe. Look what people do
and believe. I can’t believe it
said the plum trees shivering
and then the blossoms showed
up scattered, sideblown,
not just down. We cannot help
ourselves to everything
said the people unbelieving,
shaking heads. How can we believe now, look?
Atrocities blossom also, look.
The trees said help yourselves
to blossoms: democratic trees,
dreaming lessons. We believe
in teaching belief said the trees.
We cannot help ourselves with
blossoms, to blossoms of belief.
White blossoms fell on our hair
a weight barely there, so we
left them till they blew.
“As Hartigan’s muscular poems wrestle with interchangeability, so too do their innovative structures challenge its boundaries. Acrobatic and playful, the poems turn back and reflect on themselves, daring readers to consider intention and arbitrariness at once. And yet, the book is wary of the total annihilation of individual meaning: ‘The slippage that we must avoid is a certain blanketing in which/ the delicacy of perception is lost.’ Hartigan’s poems take simultaneity and expose it: ‘The news is on, the news is on at the same time as the game, sorry, it’s on at the same time, I’m sorry.’ Individual moments are individual for having been chosen—lifted out of the noise—and Hartigan’s poems make the claim that the act of choosing, no matter how choral the result, is of the greatest importance.”
“What appeals most about these poems is how much manages to happen in such a small sequence of moments, moving one to the next to the next, each one sending ripples that continue for miles. Where Hartigan shines is in the lyric disjunction, composing poems that work to explore the seriousness of real events and the weight of how the world sometimes happens to be, all while managing a lightness of line and a spark of phrasing that bounces.”