[q / lear] by Dennis Hinrichsen
Praise for [q / lear]
As I watch these short films, these poems, unfold // frame by frame // like so many stunning still shots passing, I know the poet-musician-photographer-filmmaker at work here, Dennis Hinrichsen, is pointing his heart’s camera at all the guts and ordinary glory of light, at the bleeding surfaces of our ordinary lives as did Sally Mann, whose photos are reference for some of these poems—(“tincture of Vicks on a pillowcase // pile of week old clothes in a heap”). But, like Mann, Hinrichsen transforms the banal and brutal into beauty, “the squeaking chains into birdsong,” in this chapbook built as a five-act haunting narrative, in which Q, the mother and heart of this play, sees the world, like King Lear, through an ever more splintered lens. A poet ever marking new territory, Hinrichsen turns heartbreak into hymn, and shows us again why he is one of our sharpest poets of the moment.
—Robert Fanning, author of Severance, Our Sudden Museum, American Prophet, and The Seed Thieves
Part Madmen, part King Lear, part Whitman, all fractal, the poems in [q /lear] play with prosody, family mythos, and the notion of America and motherhood during the culturally-shifting sixties. In the character of Q we have mother/housewife/woman-who-desires-for-more, and Hinrichsen brings to life her struggles with pathos and in a formal way that reflects her own challenges. So many times I returned to these pages, haunted by the beautifully and brutally honest lines. Hinrichsen takes risks but never alienates the reader because the voice in these poems is intimate and inviting, even as the form of the poems and book challenges us. These are poems for the age, engaging the questions of identity and desire and changing mores and challenging our expectations without wanting to leave anyone behind. About these poems, perhaps it is best put this way:
it bubbles out // this music //
mouth kissing burned earth // shape of fire just before the singing
—Gerry LaFemina, author of The Story of Ash
[q/lear] concerns itself with the big issues of mortality and madness—like the play it uses as a backdrop. While some of these poems refer to bodies in decay, the poems themselves build, accrete, and pulse with Hinrichsen’s trademark restlessness and energy. As a great poet of the soul as well as the flesh, Hinrichsen explores the primordial dance between the human spirit and our vulnerable bodies while making us experience it anew.
—Sue William Silverman, author of If the Girl Never Learns