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Book Review :: Contain by Cynthia Hogue

Contain poetry chapbook by Cynthia Hogue published by Tram Editions book cover image

Guest Post by Jami Macarty

In her chapbook Contain, poet Cynthia Hogue responds to artist Morgan O’Hara’s mandala-like series “Nineteen Forms of Containment.” O’Hara made her drawings on the back of The New York Times articles that she read during the height of the pandemic, and Hogue continues that recto-verso interactive throughout her chapbook. The poems on the recto side respond to O’Hara’s drawings and those on the verso side to The Times articles. The correspondences are non-interpretative, various, and layered. In some cases, news stories have been directly quoted to make cento-like poems, and given that the poems stay within the eight- to twelve-line range, the rondeau, triolet, and sonnet forms loom. The variety of poetic containers might be thought of as an analog for the various ways and by what means we each were contained during lockdown—by the coronavirus pandemic—and by social justice-related realities of the “circle wherein we live.” Hogue calls particular attention to first responders, long-haul truckers, food banks, racially motivated murders, and the climate crisis as “a way / of putting word to something / for which there are no words.” By “inward- / turning,” acknowledging the anxiety and isolation of our lives, these tender and humble poems explore the “global operation of containment”—what and who holds us. Which is captivity and which embrace. Beautiful! Hurrah new chapbook publisher, Tram Editions!

Contain by Cynthia Hogue. Tram Editions, June 2022.

Reviewer bio: Jami Macarty is the author of The Minuses (Center for Literary Publishing, 2020), winner of the 2020 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award – Poetry Arizona, and three chapbooks, including Mind of Spring (Vallum, 2017), winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award. Jami’s writing has been honored by financial support from Arizona Commission on the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, and by editors at magazines such as The Capilano Review, Concision Poetry Journal, Interim, Redivider, Vallum, and Volt, where Jami’s poems are forthcoming.

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