Photos by Mary Ann Livchak
Here, finally, the full-blown Trance Poetics of our homegrown Jersey girl surrealist, Janet Hamill. As she travels the world, from Hollywood to Canyon de Chelly to Mardi Gras to Key West to Jersey, back to Tijuana, forth to Morocco and Ethiopia, landing like a rocket-headstone in New York, she creates a new world in a new language. Knock is new form, as yet unnamed, hypnotic, beguiling, gestural—as close to ritual as a poem text can be. Mix it—the Azmiri poets in Addis will drink their honey wine, the Yaquí shamans will eat their peyote, and New York will hallucinate poetry but no one but Hamill will Knock. Enter this world at your own risk. Prepare to change everything. Relax, it’s all laid out in front of you, a prescient shadow. Just Knock.
Knock of tribes, knock of tides, knock of spirit, knock of solid earth. To read Janet Hamill’s Knock is to be taken under a spell, shown the whole of everything, hypnotized by the pulsing rhythm of real, free, wild experience. In these pages are the secrets of one who wanders with an open heart and the knowledge that we are as ancient and immortal as we are a fleeting flash above an ever-changing sightline.
Tamra Carraher, editor of Alexandria Quarterly
Janet Hamill’s Knock is intensely visual and invigorating. The interwoven shifts of its seductive language tenders a third dimensional reading experience. This is an ambitious work, rich with unexpected juxtapositions—Casanova and the Huns, Rothko and Goat’s Head Soup. A bounteous world into which we’re drawn by one of our true poets.
Janet Hamill’s bouquet of pantoums in Knock translates into a map of autobiographical palaces. The pantoum itself knots into a hypnotic doorknocker shaped like a woman and we reach for it, plane ticket in hand. The poetic line becomes our new horizon. The poet Robert Kelly once wrote “the poem must have a door,” and this is a book of gorgeous doors, at once placed in front of us closed, but they come with an extravagant and controlled invitation. You’ll find yourself in a book of the senses, a cinema of “azure splinters” and interruption. Knock is not without “slaughter,” “acacia.” You’ll find filmic poems made out of nitrocellulose here. Read them before they burn. Roll them like dice into “the loving affection of distances.” You’ll be glad. In this book, “we were assigned a small cabin,” and it forces us outside.
Knock is a field guide through the ages. A tapestry of drowsy lovers, masks, sweat, rain, oblivion, knowledge & secrets. A meta/physical travelogue as we navigate through language & dream entering doors behind which are statuary & lullabies of the earth. It’s a poem become living museum where science & sorcery carry equal weight out toward the periphery of ART, or as Hamill so eloquently puts it “the storm of revolution” and the unending “pearl image of [her] soul.” Knock before entering this unique dwelling.
poet, writer, performer & artist Janet Hamill