15 pgs, $3.00
In her chapbook â€œI Donâ€™t Respect Female Expression,â€ Frank Hinton manages to include an astonishing amount of content within just fifteen pages.Â Fittingly, considering the traditionally masculine name of â€œFrankâ€ is being employed by a female writer, Hintonâ€™s collection playfully leaps back and forth between male and female viewpoints as she examines the universal concepts of home, family, and relationships.
The chapbook begins with the aptly titled â€œA Starting Place,â€ where Hinton’s nameless narrator rests against a banister and enjoys an orange.Â As the narrator reclines and muses, â€œThis is my favorite place in the house. My back / fits well on the wood. My head feels good on the curl,â€ it is easy for the reader to imagine his or her own special place in their childhood home.Â As the narrator relaxes, memories stir and the narrator leads the reader smoothly into the second poem, â€œFather/Daughter.â€
In this poem, the reader learns that the narrator is a woman who is reminiscing about an awkward encounter with her now-deceased father.Â She laments the loss of her father and the bonds they shared.Â She likens the loss to â€œa new hole in the universe that Iâ€™m / supposed to create.â€
Create she does.Â Rather than simply write from a male characterâ€™s perspective, Hinton decides, in a refreshing twist on convention, to employ post-modernistic techniques and allow the reader to bear witness to her crafting her protagonist within the pages of the chapbook.
Make A Man
Make a man and name him Frank.
Make him young and frail. Etiolate his skin. Grease his hair. Outfit him with strandsÂ of North American Culture. Give him access to the internet. Put him on peripheries of what you admire. Make him read HTMLGIANT.com for ~2 hours a day. Make him search endlessly for the defunct I AM CARLES brand t-shirt that says: â€œ1983-????â€. Make him born in 1983. Make him feel a lot but express very little. Make him listen only to music that has been approved by pitchfork.com
Give him something to hold on to. Give him a psychic anchor. Give him yourself. Your name is Lili. Fuck him.
Having crafted her character in front of the readerâ€™s very eyes, Hinton then places him in one of the collectionâ€™s longest pieces, â€œA Medium Sized Mammal Native To North America.â€Â This borderline-prose piece grants the reader intimate access into a coupleâ€™s life together.Â Hinton keeps the reader at armâ€™s length from the two lovers, never delving into their thoughts, instead forcing the reader to draw his or her own assumptions about the relationship based purely upon the actions of the characters.
These actions reveal much about the characters.Â While they both are frustrated with the raccoons destroying their yard, they are willing to pay to have them removed rather than choose the quicker and cheaper route of having them exterminated.Â Although the poem does not directly address emotions, choosing instead to focus on actions, the coupleâ€™s kind natures are plainly apparent.
Soon after this, the reader is gifted the most powerful poem in the collection, â€œAll Of The People In These Pictures Are Dead Now.â€Â The poem consists of a series of paragraphs where a nameless narrator, presumably Frank, describes various snapshots and his relationships with the picturesâ€™ subjects.Â The most telling of these is the six word section, â€œHereâ€™s a picture of my dad.â€Â The poem concludes with the description of the narratorâ€™s own picture as he lays in a field:
â€œToday thereâ€™s snow on the ground and the sun is dipping and I donâ€™t have a camera. It doesnâ€™t matter. This moment need not be captured. All the really important stuff happens in absence of cameras, all the little real moments. Letâ€™s see how long I can stay here Â in the cold. Letâ€™s see what animals come to pick me apart and carry me away.â€
The lines â€œAll the really important stuff / happens in absence of cameras, all the little real moments,â€ are the most moving in the collection.Â They remind the reader that the most precious memories are the ones kept within our hearts, not needing the reminders of photographs or keepsakes.
Hintonâ€™s subjects often speak in the second person, addressing an unseen other.Â This technique works marvelously as a tool to pull the reader into the verse and ensnare his or her attention.Â In â€œYou Rarely See Your Dirt In The Shower,â€ the narrator speaks confidently that, â€œwhen we meet it will be something like when I put my hand under the shower water and realize that itâ€™s warm enough now.â€ Such simple similes are far more effective than the overwrought, verbose language far too many writers employ to convey such a simple concept â€“ when true lovers meet, it will just feel right.
â€œI Donâ€™t Respect Female Expressionâ€ is an adventurous and intriguing chapbook that contains more evocative language than many much larger collections.Â The relatively short length of the collection makes for a very quick read and it can quickly be reread in its entirety over and over again. While the strict traditionalist may be turned off by the lack of traditional form or structure in her work, Hintonâ€™s chapbook is an exceptional collection of modern poetry that will appeal to anyone who enjoys a poet willing to take chances and dance outside the boundaries of convention.
Stanton Hancock is a writer and musician whose poetry and fiction have appeared on scraps of paper, in tattered notebooks, and under bridges.Â He has an MA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University and is currently pursuing his MFA.Â He recently finished his first novel and feels pretty good about that.