Reviewed by Kate Rogers
The poetry collection "The Patternmaker's Crumpled Plan", by B. E. Hunt (Piquant Press, 2011) evokes the narrator’s deep, contradictory, remorseful responses to the loss of long term love, and her despair at the disintegration of a shared life and household.
We encounter the narrator dissecting her lost relationship in "Autopsy" (p. 26),
"Start by shucking back the skin/
to strip out veins like algae strands/
bleed craggy brain and lifeless limbs/
gut soft spots like some sea bass/
you hone forensic tools--/
should've, would've, could've.../"
In "When you Love me Now" (p. 13), compelled by habit, the narrator and her ex-lover seek comfort from each other's bodies, but comfort gives way to numbness,
"And yet like wine spilled on the floor/
reduced to stain
our passion rims the edge;
the crust, much darker
is like blood
our hearts no longer pump/
to fingertips and lips that won't respond;/
our toes have no more feelings
no balance, all gravity gone."
In "Topography" (p.40), "collectibles" are "a scattered tribute to the broken years".
The wrenching dismantling of shared domestic order, the "jumbled linen" and "mismatched pots" of a new household assembled from "charred wreckage" conjure dislocation and despair. (Finesse, p.46). In "So" (p. 50), the narrator feels "the mirrors mock" her, yet she believes the patternmaker's crumpled plan" can be smoothed and re-used.
Reuse or repurposing is a theme of Hunt’s collection: many of the poems within reuse lines from other poets or respond to them. The source of inspiration is listed in footers below Hunt’s poems. (Hunt’s approach formalises the process many poets use as they write—to respond to the line of another poet like a prompt. That style has also been employed by Toronto poet Catherine Graham in her collection, “Her Red Hair Rises With the Wings of Insects” (2013). Graham was inspired by Irish poet Dorothy Molloy and her book features glosas which incorporate Molloy’s work.)
The passion, despair and deep reflection triggered by the loss of a long term relationship are expressed in a compelling manner in "The Patternmaker's Crumpled Plan". Thinking back to similar periods in my own life I believe the beautifully crafted poems in this book would bring comfort to many people struggling with grief over a lost long time love.