2021 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards Poetry nominee!
Erica Hunt writes at the intersection of poetry and emancipatory politics—racial and gender justice, feminist ethics, and participatory democracy—showing us that altering our reading strategies frames our experiences. Ultimately, she finds that words matter, savoring the small ones: articles, pronouns, collective, plural and singular. This collection brings together out of print works and journals of the same period, to speak across “crumpled” time, the past seen from then to now.
Erica Hunt’s Jump the Clock is eerily appropriate for a time when a pandemic has suspended the normal temporal rhythms for so many of us, while laying bare our mortally uneven relationship to those rhythms.
If it doesn’t pay to be an individual, what else is there to be? We may not be able to answer that question “until we enlist sense to illumination and make room for the blanks.” That line comes from Erica Hunt’s Jump the Clock: New and Selected Poems, a sometimes brutal, always brilliant tour of Western individualism’s social and ecological effects.
With a hand over her heart, Hunt leads us by love deeper into our attention to the present, wherein past and future teeter on our tongues, waiting to see just what we are really ready to do.
This collection of Erica Hunt’s poetry might just save you. Including out of print works and others, this volume is one of inspiration, resistance and possibility.
We have lived in one chronology for many decades, of disrepair, divisions and fears. In response, Erica Hunt’s is a full-fronted other way of naming. In every detail and crevasse, her work unmutes voices and refigures necessary community… Hunt is crucial to an analytic poetry engaging in this work.
Erica Hunt has been publishing poems since the 1980s. Jump the Clock gathers nearly two hundred pages’ worth of them. I generally feel like a poet has some level of talent if, in a chapbook, I find a couple of lines I want to quote; Hunt’s book had me nodding or laughing or wincing in appreciation at least every other page. I emerged from it with the sense that she is, whatever this term might mean, a major poet.
In 1994 I wrote about Erica Hunt’s first book, Local History, for the Village Voice. In that review I praised an “insistently high level of self-consciousness” that “pressurizes ordinary perceptions until some small truth that tells on the poet bursts forth.” Almost three decades and several books later, her intensity of utterance continues to produce a verse that springs revelations from the commonplace. Containing selections from all of her books and additional unpublished material, this volume testifies to a sustained vision and the development of a language that veers from the personal to the abstract so smoothly you can’t quite tell the difference.
Hunt here, and elsewhere, presents difficulty with love, and our lives are richer for it.
Poets & Writers: How long did it take you to write Jump the Clock?
Erica Hunt: Jump the Clock assembles selections from five books of poetry written over a span of almost forty years. There are a few poems, never gathered in a volume and unpublished, but the majority passed the “would I read this poem more than once” test.
Click to read Erica Hunt’s interview in Poets & Writers’s Ten Questions series!