Feelings, Assoc.

By Matt Hart & Nate Pritts

(Hubcap Art, 2010).
Paperback: $6.00.


Reviewed by Tom C. Hunley & Lucas Filip





The first poem in the collaborative chapbook by Matt Hart and Nate Pritts begins with a wonderful epigraph from Richard Hugo, in which Hugo attempts to describe all creative writers in general and succeeds at describing Hart and Briggs in particular as “those of us who find life bewildering and who don’t know what things mean, but love the sounds of words enough to fight through draft after draft…” While many collaborations contain startlingly-bright flashes of brilliance but little coherence, I really appreciate the composition of this chapbook. Too often it feels like this chapbook stands out because poetry collections are little more than a collection of the author’s poems, not stand-alone art pieces. It feels like the poets took the collaboration all the way through the writing process, putting their heads together in Feelings, Assoc., though I felt that each poem built upon ideas in revision as well as in the invention stage. There’s a lot of playfulness here, but there’s also a lot that was brought up in the poems preceding it. Whether it was of aching the speaker’s broken foot, or the use of weather to personify human emotions and interactions, and often both appear onstage together, I felt the authors did a fantastic job, as in these lines from one of two poems called “Icicles Glinting in Sunlight: “…I want to November it up. I want to / season the seasons. I want to fall harder.”

More than Hugo, the guiding spirits of making the overall book something more than just the sum of its parts are poets like Kenneth Koch, Allen Ginsberg, and especially Frank O’Hara, which is evident in various allusions such as the titles “In Memory of My Feelings” and “In Memory of Somebody Else’s Feelings.” I also enjoyed the way that Coleridge and Wordsworth are also everywhere present in these poems. Hart and Pritts use “lyrical ballad” as a verb in “NP,” and in “Beginnings and Friendings,” the poets muse “They’ll wonder which of us is Coleridge / & which is Wordsworth,” but I find that I don’t really wonder who wrote what. Part of the beauty of this book is the fact that each stanza read like a miniature poem. Often while reading Feelings, Assoc., I would get lost. There are no process memos or footnotes in the beauty of the single stanzas, in which the poets draw attention to themselves as individuals, only to return to the whole poem as it came to an end. More than most of the other collaborating poets I’ve come across, it felt like the book was constructed out of poetry legos. For this collaboration they seem serious about letting their egos go for the duration of the project. It calls to mind Timothy Leary’s old definition of LSD trips as “ego-loss experiences.” It’s one thing as a whole, but it doesn’t crumble as you begin to take it apart either. Hart and Pritts are like Coleridge and Wordsworth on acid. I don’t know if it was intentional, or just the byproduct of the authors’ collaboration, but I loved it either way.


Tom C. Hunley is Book Review Editor for Pomeleon. Read his full bio here.

Lucas Filip recently won the 2009 Jim Wayne Miller Contest, judged by Vivian Shipley, and the 2010 Goldenrod Poetry Contest, judged by Richard Jackson. He is a student at Western Kentucky University.