In his third poetry collection, A Brief History of the Short-Lived, Chris Hutchinson brings the full force of his linguistic dexterity to bear on the elusive subject of literature itself.
With his restless intellectual curiosity tempered by a dash of witty self-deprecation, Hutchinson deftly manoeuvres through hallowed halls of academia with humour and grace.
Three stylistically distinct sections,"Imago,""A Brief History of the Short-Lived," and "Serialist" are interwoven throughout the collection, showcasing the range of Hutchinson's poetic ability. The "Brief History" poems explode from the page in densely allusive bursts of energy, clusters of images fired off at a rapid pace: "He is wearing a green felt / Fedora with an ostrich plume which bursts into flame the moment I drop / A three-sided coin into his outstretched flipper. " By contrast, the "Imago" and "Serialist" sections are quieter and more meditative, though no less inventive or rich in imagery: "Rhetoric is big business / as byzantine networks / replace its circle of friends. "
By turns gleefully irreverent, thoughtful and too clever for its own good, A Brief History of the Short-Lived defies description--it must be read to be believed.
Born in Montreal, Chris Hutchinson is the author of three previous collections of poetry (Unfamiliar Weather, Other People's Lives, and A Brief History of the Short-lived), as well as the speculative autobiographical verse novel Jonas in Frames. He holds a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston. He now teaches at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta.
One way to approach a book of poems is to read it as a collection of evocative lines. Take, for instance, "Then your thought becomes a paper flower/ Unfolded by an artless whim/ And crumpled up by worrying neuroses/ And planted in the heart of reason. " This is a pleasing passage, both rhythmically and intellectually: metaphor and sound working in tandem. An aesthetic akin to surrealism is at work in Hutchinson's latest collection.
--Paul Tyler, Arc Poetry Magazine