Abrianna Jetté’s contribution to Stay Thirsty, “As the Seasons Change, Read These Poets,” mentions Carey McHugh as an author whose prose we would do well to hold close as the volatility of seasons and nature asserts itself in most areas of our lives.
We take from our environment as much as we need, and we attempt to emulate its beauty in our own idiosyncratic ways. I imagine Carey McHugh looks out onto the world and understands the dramatic impact of the slamming of a door or the honk of an irritatingly loud horn. I imagine that when McHugh gazes outward, she ignores that door and horn and listens, rather, to the soft pull of the daisy’s petal as it reaches towards the sun. I imagine she hears the earth.
Stephanie Bryant Anderson touches not on seasons but on secrets in her review, eponymously titled after McHugh’s collection. The arcana lurking within McHugh’s prose, as she calls it, urges the reader to dig twofold for secrets internal and external, from past selves and lives to stories overheard and unsung.
McHugh’s images conjure from the gut to express the workings of the unconscious by fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtaposition of content; I find myself inferring my personal arcana to the peculiar landscape of fox possessions, winter, crows, sickness of violins, collar bone, clavicle and spine, well’s open eye; what a beautiful shakeup of syntax. What I find to be the most valuable thing about the collection for me is the way readers are invited to discover their own arcana within the lexicon. I feel claustrophic in these poems, but in the way that my reflection feels claustrophobic in the mirror.
American Gramophone is available for purchase through Small Press Distribution online.
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