UP BEAR CREEK | Robyn Hunt’s First Book

02/16/14 | By | More

THE SHAPE OF CAUGHT WATER … Few wait 30 years to publish their first book of poetry, especially an émigré San Franciscan with Santa Fe roots who ran with the pack in the Poetry Flash world of the Sixties/Seventies Bay Area and its Renaissance lit scene. Robyn Hunt hung with the Cloud House poets of the Mission. Knew North Beach and opened her own bookstore and poetry venue in the Duboce Triangle … Now she makes an adobe home of New Mexico with a writer husband and college-age daughter … The Shape of Caught Water (Red Mountain Press, Santa Fe, 2013) may be a first book, but it’s not the product of youthful practice. Robyn’s is a seasoned voice. Just the title catches us up short. These poems will be interrupting the flow of things to grab a little of the uncatchable and see what shape can be made. They cup their hands in the quotidian rapids and, catching hold of something, trap what can be seen in language – how it feels, gives shape to a life on the move, before the moment spills and is gone … Traveling is a central trope of the collection. As it is for most of our lives. We are driving culture. Restless. Picking up roots and relocating. She, we, are alone with our sentences. On a journey to recollect the moving forward and away. And the way leads through intersections, Bob Dylan at the wheel, traveling mandolins, returnings, Eve in Paris, too close tailgates, a man on a bridge in California, riding the miraculous animal, getaways, summer swims, one seen without a home, a daughter driving, walking nightmare streets, navigating narrow canals, “wheels thrum over ridged linoleum,” the daily road, wanting to be a boat, from Louisiana to Texas, and far off traffic sounds … Life is on the move. It’s persistent like water. Only curling into eddies and side streams as it gets caught up and held. Robyn opens her book of illusory lyrics and lays them before us. Gives us enough narrative to hint at place, embed the images in the clay of Santa Fe. But her images leap and swirl, bunch and bump, toss you across chasms. They mean one thing, and then slip into many other things … “Hammer together porches that lean one against another” … “Restless are the arguments like foreplay” …”Lips of truancy ignore night’s instruction” … “A widow’s house heavy with keepsakes” … “This life is made from scratch and prayer” …”Wrists tied to the bed frame of obligation” … “Expansive torso of the imagination” … Robyn fishes shapes out of the flow – images and memories, dreams and ashes. We tag along and marvel at the depth of the current, the pull of the song. Like the best women writing today, Hunt is fiercely honest. Her poetry uses a marvelously American cadence. Never static. But often staccato. Elliptic. And then rolling along eloquent. She makes lists. Takes us from one room to another, from anger to pleasure, from longing to remorse. Images linger and fade … This is a brilliant book. Like the works of my friend Michael Daley of the Pacific Northwest. It isn’t a quick read. Nor always an easy one. What of the invisible gets caught in the visible depends almost on how much time you spend, swimming in its waters. But the rewards are great. The shapes invigorating. This is a book to take with you as you travel. The more you read, the more it will come to mean … Highly recommended.


KOTO … Loved our dynamic News Team duo’s latest interview show, Off the Record. Mayor Dan Jansen of the Mountain Village was the first victim. Pressed by Cara and Caitlin, he did a great job, and differentiated between two philosophies of economic development in the region – the Peak Growers and Trough Fillers. I find myself in the latter camp, mostly. We ought to mature from a boom-bust two-season resort-town-only economy, to a diversified four-season year-round operation … I loved Mayor Dan’s insistence that the Intergovernmental Group ought to work towards actions, not just updates and reports. Yes, all our governments are different, but they can work to complement each other, if we keep open good channels of communication and collaboration.


NFL … Other than our state’s great disappointment with the outcome of the Super Bowl this year, did you know that the National Football League is considered a “nonprofit,” in spite of the obscene profits generated by this sports business? That’s thanks to an obscure provision pushed through by lobbyists in 1966 to the Internal Revenue Code that makes “professional football leagues” quality for a 501(c)6 designation … There is a move to require the league to pay taxes. Contact your congressionals to let them know you want this very big business to pay their fair share of taxes, whatever team you support … Professional sports leagues make billions in annual revenues. They shouldn’t qualify for exemptions. But, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the NFL has spent $2 million in campaign contributions since 1992 and another $12.7 million on lobbying since 1998.




Her Gloves


Stained mismatched

leather pair, left as she stepped out

into Junction’s railyard night


Entangling us, interactive

in fate’s dark spin

Hitchhiker & benefactor


Owner. Other. Friend?

Discovered, upset, she’d

forgotten her food stamps


in Norwood. Off to California

with just a backpack. Broke

Heartsick. Day getting dark


Hoping to help

her dying mom. I found

them the next morning


crumpled on the front-seat

floor of the chilled van

like a hug gone bad


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Category: Archive > February 2014

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