Under the idyllic and pastoral cover, The Stranger Manual by…
Greg Hewett's new book of poems, darkacre, dabbles in property law as well as the physical and abstract definitions surrounding it. The poetry collection’s name is a play on the legal term 'blackacre' which simply defines one property from another, 'whiteacre', for contracts and legal proceedings. Hewett takes this from law to literary, with poems that carry titles like “redacre,” “grayacre,” and “greenacre.”
darkacre conveys deed to whiteacre
at the boundary where snow falls
(or is it petals? ash?)”
The styles of poetry vary wildly throughout the book and this is due to the inclusion of work from five artist books that Hewett collaborated on. Though there are differences, the author has the lucky binding factor of repetition. Recurring imagery produces cohesion and in some ways, it feels like a diary charting Hewett's styles and experimentations. Unfortunately, this does lend the book a certain weakness, because it implies lack of vision and can give the reader a distinct impression of inexperience.
The major strength of this book is the alliteration. Hewett builds words on top of words, as he goes, producing unexpected combinations like 'violent violet' and pairing 'iridescent' next to 'incandescent' and 'mute' just prior to 'modulating'. Every aspect of each poem is wrapped in sounds: vowels and consonants precisely chosen to create a melody while you read them.
Some sections really shine; including a group of poems entitled “The Yam Complex (Between Time and History)”.
Fate has dropped me without wings.
Here I am miniature yet more
Than public, can never get lost or lose
Myself on the treeless ellipse
Between freeway and cathedral.”
Hewett's section called “Cameos” is very well suited for a special printing, but doesn't extend itself as well for paperback form. “Mannahatta;” however, holds up quite well and has a disturbing, voyeuristic nature.
she serves them
touching the cheek of the one
offering cascades of something
like laughter …
Their friendship had taken a turn in
Tribeca only one of them was aware of.”
Greg Hewett gives us a book of smartly written poetry. darkacre has a trace of apprehension and a smack of doomsday between its memory-laden pages. Reading it may give you something to think about.