Eleanor Hooker’s Core Image-building

Eleanor Hooker’s second collection A Tug of Blue (Daedalus Press 2016) has many virtues, which may explain why it has been such a success. ¬†The craft of poetry depends on mastery of many aspects of communication: image, symbol, idiomatic phrasing, rhythm, sound pattern, echoic references to other poems. To generalize, poetry exhibits a way of connecting different aspects of life in a single gesture. In that sense, you could say that Hooker’s poetry is generously evocative of a core of life’s connections.

The last stanza of “Living” is copied below for reference. ¬†Hooker’s accumulating image of what “we are” while apologetic (“We are but”) in the end seems metaphysically daring (“we startle the sky with our flight”). But through her mastery of how words connect, she moves through a sequence — from “warmed by the sun” and then in an inward turn from palm to heart, she witnesses our seeking. The sequence of verbal adjectives and other grammatical figures has the over-fulness of prophetic speech. Look again at the making of the “image” (if I can use that word to include sound, sense, and all communicative forms as they blend with the energy of the final phrase). And look at it again! Note how she draws deeply on core meanings; the word “core” usefully suggests how the poem moves from outside to inside, from the solid thereness of sea-bleached stones to the “unanswered murmurations” and beyond. “Unanswered” is a brilliant touch as it opens on a further depth, one that “startles the sky” — the back of beyond?

We are but sea-bleached stones

warmed by the sun, held in each

other's palm, loose in

each other's heart, and

mining unanswered murmurations

we startle the sky with our flight.