Hugh Hazelton

antimatter by Hugh Hazelton
Poems accompanied by a CD

Reviewer: Ed Farolan




$22.95 CDN, 64 pp.
Copyright 2003 Hugh Hazelton
ISBN 1-896647-98-7

Hugh Hazelton with Ed Farolan

Hugh Hazelton born in the USA in 1946 is a Montreal-based poet currently teaching at Concordia University. He immigrated to Canada in the late sixties, as did many Americans, to avoid the draft in protest against the Vietnam war. He is the publisher of White Dwarf Editions, and author of two other books, Sunwords and Crossing the Chaco.

The poems in this collection are a combination of different styles, from declamatory to experimentation, from recitative to chant, from stuttering to singing....and the author believes that poetry should be thus, and not limited to only one style.

I met Hugh two years ago, and again, at Macdonald's in the Eastside of Montreal last June 18th to talk about our poems, our projects, and so on. He quipped: "Macdonald's the new meeting place for poets." Ironic, but convenient and cheap for impoverished poets.

What's unique about this new publication is it includes an audio CD. And in today's world of media, it does help in communicating more effectively reading as well as hearing the author deliver his verses.

From the seventeen poems in this collection, two struck me, partly because I was doing my doctorate in the USA when the Vietnam war was at its height, and I was involved in protests and rallies against the war. The first is the poem 'never forget' which expresses the author's condemnation of the war, as did most of us who protested against this ignominy. Here's a fragment of the poem:

never forget Vietnam Americans
not because your country was humbled
or your power made impotent
but because Vietnam has never ended
and new wars are rising everywhere
for your children
and generations of children






because your nation creates Vietnams
among the poor and miserable
it fights an endless war of dominance
against economic equality
against people desperate for survival
against those who have nothing
who desire to eat to share land
to decide their own future.....

The other poem that hits at the death penalty in the USA is 'lethal injection'. It goes:

the favourite way
of executing people in the USA
now that the electric chair is considered too grotesque and passé
with its screams, smoke coming out of the ears and spasmodic dancing.....

lethal injection
used now to kill the poor, the blacks and latinos
who are ten times more likely to be executed for murdering a white
than vice versa.....

Two poems are experimental in nature and visually laid out: 'product', which comes in the shape of a champagne glass, and 'wordwork', reflecting this computer-based digital world we live in. This collection also includes an erotic poem, 'consort', where he describes sexual intercourse; a critique of how we are constantly bombarded with ads and propaganda by media through TV, radio, billboards, etc. in the poem 'communiqué'; and the last poem, the title poem, 'antimatter', where the author philosophizes about "being and not being...and wondering if I can stay in the universal moment."

2004 Ed Farolan