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by Joe Pan
Original Cover Art by David Drummond
100 pages/approximately 250 poems
Publisher: Augury Books
Purchase through Amazon
How Joe Pan just lets the world occur in Hiccups is a pleasure. These poems are, to borrow a phrase from Philip
Whalen, 'a graph of the mind moving.' They offer the range of life as it's being lived, as it's being thought through,
and there's enough euphony in Pan's short lines to hold it all to the page. A gift.
Hiccups is a lame name for this collection of brilliant brevities. Shooting Stars might have worked, or Sequins from
Cinderella's Ball Gown, or Light-Saber-Duel Sparks, or...but then, we should trust that Joe Pan knows what he is doing.
These verses I found charming, always, even when downcast, and exhilarating in bulk‐if works so well carved from
cherry stones may be said to have bulk. For example, this moving poem about maternal love: 'The child holding his
coat/ aloft by one arm is held/ aloft by one arm.' Enough said? My soul thinks so.
Joe Pan gives us hiccups. Crisp, bursting, the first bite of every apple (the only one you really want). What's the opposite
of a suicide note? If there is a 'life note,' then this is it, taking us from casino to glacier, our attention a pinball, a staccato
of seasons. A shot of cough syrup for every time I laughed. Flitting is fleeting, so enjoy these crack poems while you can.
If Walt Whitman wrote haiku, they might sound like Joe Pan's capacious short poems in Hiccups, a luminous 'Song of
Myself' for the twenty-first century. Afoot with vision, Pan roams the world looking for its most vulnerable members: a
homeless man without legs, a baby breathing, a lost ant. With the eye of a pointillist ('Every City is a Seurat'), he renders
us with tender precision ('snow dusts the elderly ice skaters')."
Generous, genial, and big-hearted, Pan writes with affection and candor, while avoiding cynicism or judgment. Hiccups
is the most accurate portrait of human life, human behavior and human beings doing human things that you'll ever read.
Observational, pointed, tender and funny, this is the poetic version of a field recording of the modern world.
Everything in this collection is about nuance, contrasting the different selves and times, where human interaction is
juxtaposed by nature both physical and intangible. Basically, Pan gracefully and poignantly connects and interweaves all
the mysteries of our lives in such a way where it's not just keenly observant, but fiercely unforgiving of the world around us.
‐Joanna C. Valente
...In terms of autobiography and mythos, Pan hits the clearest notes when reconciling with his own place in time, as in the startling sequence
"Nineteen Years After My Nineteenth Year," which opens with a "Mayfly/ in my coffee, stroking/ (goddamnit) down my throat" and closes
with the listless observation that "every city is a Seurat/ & no city as well."...
Joe Pan is the author of two collections of poetry, Hiccups (Augury Books) and Autobiomythography & Gallery (BAP).
He is the publisher and managing editor of Brooklyn Arts Press, serves as the poetry editor for the arts magazine
Hyperallergic and small press editor for Boog City, and is the founder of the services-oriented activist group Brooklyn
Artists Helping. His piece "Ode to the MQ-9 Reaper," a hybrid work about drones, was excerpted and praised in The
New York Times. In 2015 Joe participated in the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's Process Space artist residency
program on Governors Island. Joe attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop, grew up along the Space Coast of Florida,
and now lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
From the Book:
by Joe Pan
The sea split the land
with a river & some people
still haven't forgiven it
Window, electric fence‐
what separates lions
from an international breakfast
Elephant trunk slips about a low
back‐sparks of birds erupt
O ornamented kingfisher‐
as if the green hills were made
to accommodate such ego
In this heat
the kind of animal you are
emerges on the slopes