Tupelo Press, 2003
it at Amazon
Notes: Rating: 5 of 5
Carolyn Howard-Johnson, award-winning author of This is
the Place and Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered
House Waiting for Music
By David Hernandez
An Inappropriate Cover May Attract
Wrong Audience for This Book
House Waiting for Music by David Hernandez is proof that poetry
is not made of happy memories; rather it suggests that the function
of happy memories (or any memories, for that matter) is that they
persuade poets to write. The reader should never assume that they
would prompt a cheerful conclusion.
of poetry will find this statement self-evident. Those raised on
Hallmark sentiments need to be warned that Hernandez, now somewhere
in his early 30s, not only has a memory of his own by-gone days
as keen as if he were an octogenarian with time to sit on his porch,
rock and tell tales from his childhood, but that his memory takes
sharp turns that will not only surprise the reader but dismay him.
angular poems also hang about in a reader's memory like delicate
spider webs that have been caught in one's hair is also an important
quality of these poems. If that same Hallmark set would rather nibble
on crumpets and smell posies, this book may not be their kettle
of tea. Hernandez's poems, many of them published in top review
journals before they appeared in this book, are flat-out fantastic.
I love the sentiment, the familiarity that he twists on its ear
to make his reader reconsider the complacency of his own past or,
if denial cannot be breached, then to reassess how fortunate he
is to be so comfortable.
warning-if indeed it is a warning and not a recommendation-is more
important because of the title of the book. Though certainly appropriate
for the collection at several levels, it is misleading. As is the
cover-a piano, tumbling bowler hats a la The Brown Derby, and lace.
Yes, wistful memories are evident in this collection, but a book
of poetry full of whimsy, let alone a book of musical poetry that
recalls a Victorian evening at home, this definitely is not. This
is a house waiting for music. Important words, those. Waiting for