Erin Hoover’s Barnburner starts with an epigraph that seems destructive:
But in reality is a bold statement of wanting wholeness and truth in life. Through this collection of poetry that feels like it pulls a lot from memoir writing — that confessional, confiding tone that’s designed to pull you in like a close friend — we’re convinced the barn burner of the epigraph was quite reasonable.
Here’s a little of what brought us here:
(You can read all of this poem over here.)
This is a keystone poem to the collection, one that in some ways lays out that desire for completeness. These poems are compared to murder stories, she suggests she is not asking the reader to do all that much leaping as there are no gaps — unlike Sappho there’s neither the smudged lines of desire or the fragmenting for interpretation. There’s no shying away from the truth of it all — there’s no hiding details about real life. We hear of friends on drugs, of family members navigating fear with children, and her own childlessness.
And these stories push against patriarchy and capitalism in this way. The completeness of the telling cannot be unpicked, the open truth of the poetry and stories within means there is simply no room for the story to be told any other way. Because every line is negotiated into existence, firmly placed with an action and then the defining commentary, the work seems entirely canonical.
This is displayed in If You Are Confused About Whether a Girl Can Consent:
This form of finding a truth amongst confusing versions of what looks a bit like a truth — and the willingness to force through to an objective reality is what these poems are partly about. Later in What Is the Sisterhood to Me? we get the line
“My boyfriend knew what so many men know: if you don’t admit it, it’s not true”
in the context of him being hospitalised “because of some dumb bitch” with a fire extinguisher which shows the poet searching for truth and ending with the threat of how weightless a fire extinguisher feels in her hand.
There’s things we experience that we let wash over us, and there’s those that we need to grip tightly to make reality — otherwise they’ll slip away too and we’ll not be the owners of the canonical version. This is a collection about gripping on to every experience until the world is as solid as could be.
What do we take from it all? Maybe just to live your life open-ribbed, accept that sometimes you do need to burn the barn down if you really just want rid of the rats.
Read more about Barnburner and preorder over here.
The world hasn’t earned the world’s end — not just yet anyway.
Helen McClory’s Farm at The World’s End is one way it could go however.
Our Sammy has something in Eunoia and something else on her blog. I especially like the bouncing ghosts.
Our Hannah has a short story in Brilliant Flash Fiction Mag and in a powerful piece of concrete editing you’ll find yourself having to scroll quite a long way down to find it! It’s like falling between the tracks yourself.
If you’re our at all, do please let me know when you do something very good online as that’s kind of what this newsletter is about 🙂
Thanks for reading Etch To Their Own, especially if you’re as cool as this. It was written by I, @CJEggett, with my eye closed in that CA Conrad style. Except I obviously didn’t proof it. Subtle? How dull! Most likely way we’re all going to experience the rapture when it comes. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with holding on to a nice idea.