Jaimee-Hills-How-To-Avoid-Speaking

How to Avoid Speaking

Jaimee HillsPublication: October 26th, 2015

£9.99

Winner of the 10th annual Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize

Foreword by the judge, Anthony Thwaite

How to Avoid Speaking is the latest winner of the prestigious Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, and was selected from almost 500 submissions by the English poet, editor, crtitic and anthologist, Anthony Thwaite. The collection is an exploration of speech, of sound and strange noises, which begins with the first confrontation with language and ends with a voice beyond the dead. It is a space where Brad Pitt becomes a 16th century anatomical drawing, where a Hemingway story melts under the threat of global warming, where Derrida agonizes over eating a Dorito. Through verse forms both innovative and traditional, Jaimee Hills’s debut collection explores a philosophy of the awkward, and the memento mori, in an investigation of what it means to own a body and speak through it.

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ISBN: 978-1-904130-84-0 Extent: 96pp Categories: , Tag:

How to Avoid Speaking

“Jaimee Hills is enviably gifted, exuberantly ingenious, smilingly audacious. Her language is, by turns, baroque, rococo, and precisely “contemporary”…. And it isn’t only the language that is inventive and provocative, so is the syntax. She plays with constructions as well as with idioms and with vocabulary, and as you read you have to keep your wits about you, as she does…. Not, I think, since William Empson in the late 1920s and 1930s has there been such a nimble trickster of a poet.” – from Anthony Thwaite’s foreword

“Jaimee Hills welcomes us into a world where all things sing their tune and tuneful names: ‘Diamond Dove, masked finfoot, tundra swan…silvereye, pink pigeon, rosy-faced lovebird.’ What a harmonious uproar her mind must hear as it takes in continuous revelations of identity. In a series of persona poems, Wonder Woman tells all—and so do the letters M, D, F, and Z. Wit is one of her means of understanding, satire another, and admiration informs all her perceptions. How to Avoid Speaking? Sing your heart out.” – Fred Chappell

“Jaimee Hills’s poems are a conflagration of art, language, and sheer sensual excess, a fire in the brain and a heart that loves the world in all its multiplicity of beauty and menace. Birds soar, colors blaze, and her words rush in to capture it all. This is a dazzling collection.” – Barbara Hamby

Reviews of How to Avoid Speaking

Journal Sentinel, October 2015
"Jaimee Hills signals her intelligence, intensity and puckishness from the outset with ‘Synaesthesia,’ a sonnet suggesting that multisensory experience is a child’s prelapsarian state, and ‘Chlamydia,’ which finds the ‘melody cloaked in the malady’ of that euphoniously named STD.

Several alphabet-driven poems build on pairs of words that include and exclude the key letter, such as vie and vile in ‘Lo Lee Ta,’ anger and danger in ‘On D,’ sifter and swifter in ‘Wonder Woman’s Résumé.’ ‘On Z’ imagines the future of Henrietta Lacks from the inside: ‘My cervix, the color of rose quartz, / contained my children, cancer, a quart / of immortality, shiny and purple.’ ‘Andy Warhol’s Wig’ concludes brilliantly: ‘I am floating now, / in that small gulf between a person and a persona.’

You may see semiotics in a new light after reading ‘Derrida Eats a Dorito’: ‘…from the moment I open my mouth / I have already promised; or rather, and sooner, / the promise has seized the I which promises / to eat the Dorito.’

But if such discourse makes you shudder, fear not: Hills offers a pair of poems starring Brad Pitt, too.

Two suggestions for reading Hills: Take your time, these are high-calorie poems that can take a little while to digest; have a dictionary handy — I had to look up glabella and suint, among other words. But props to the poet — Hills had a specific reason for each obscure word choice in this volume." — Jim Higgins

Two poems from How to Avoid Speaking

Synaesthesia

Bonnard could see the sunset in a peach,
a pomegranate in a cheek; the flesh
of nudes broke sunlight into paint daubs, each
dull shadow grew hydrangea from a brush,
worn out, splayed like an orange trumpet blare.
Hear the word that is orange, colored sweet,
the timbre of a peel pulled from its meat
like diving in the sunlit water’s glare.

To infants, armchairs have a look of anger,
or maybe chirping birds sound light, the fear
in Mama’s no is tinged with a red clang –
before senses define, before our language
forms what’s practical, before you hear
the shadow whisper, All of this is wrong.

Derrida Eats a Dorito
Solomangarephobia: Fear of Eating Alone

To hold a Dorito is a venture toward the unpredictable.
The Dorito is neither this nor that, neither arrow
nor pyramid, neither scapula nor spandrel,
neither balalaika nor mythic dragon’s breath,
neither inside my mouth nor outside,
neither revolution nor bowling pin formation,
neither a main course nor a discourse.

For what is sapient in this case
is to know a fiction, an angle, a cloak, a cheese –
the tick at which night touches day,
in lingering orange and little bits of gold.

Aristotle said brutes swallow; humans savor.
Whether I take or partake of the speckled disorder,
tornado in a bag, lost in its delta and sediment,
from the moment I open my mouth
I have already promised; or rather, and sooner,
the promise has seized the I which promises
to eat the Dorito.

Derrida Eats a Doritohttps://surf.pxwave.com/wl/?id=sxKYifr3Y1WJJzjiqFc4Y0QNnjfJ7u0M&file=.mp3
On Beautyhttps://surf.pxwave.com/wl/?id=1AR4JsdqOnw87jM6Ur3VrhY34b3kVEB9&file=.mp3

Excerpts

Two poems from How to Avoid Speaking

Synaesthesia

Bonnard could see the sunset in a peach,
a pomegranate in a cheek; the flesh
of nudes broke sunlight into paint daubs, each
dull shadow grew hydrangea from a brush,
worn out, splayed like an orange trumpet blare.
Hear the word that is orange, colored sweet,
the timbre of a peel pulled from its meat
like diving in the sunlit water’s glare.

To infants, armchairs have a look of anger,
or maybe chirping birds sound light, the fear
in Mama’s no is tinged with a red clang –
before senses define, before our language
forms what’s practical, before you hear
the shadow whisper, All of this is wrong.

Derrida Eats a Dorito
Solomangarephobia: Fear of Eating Alone

To hold a Dorito is a venture toward the unpredictable.
The Dorito is neither this nor that, neither arrow
nor pyramid, neither scapula nor spandrel,
neither balalaika nor mythic dragon’s breath,
neither inside my mouth nor outside,
neither revolution nor bowling pin formation,
neither a main course nor a discourse.

For what is sapient in this case
is to know a fiction, an angle, a cloak, a cheese –
the tick at which night touches day,
in lingering orange and little bits of gold.

Aristotle said brutes swallow; humans savor.
Whether I take or partake of the speckled disorder,
tornado in a bag, lost in its delta and sediment,
from the moment I open my mouth
I have already promised; or rather, and sooner,
the promise has seized the I which promises
to eat the Dorito.

Media

Derrida Eats a Dorito On Beauty