Taking cues from a myriad of short forms—haiku, epigram, bon mot, aphorism, senryū—the poems in Joe Pan’s Hiccups search out unexpected ways to document events in transition. Here the imminent moment, deeply regarded, is agitated into performance or merely left to drift, generating through language a curious experience of its own making. The disparate settings of these poems are as diverse as the impulses that gave rise to the work—a Tokyo skyscraper, a South African wildlife preserve, a log cabin in the Pacific Northwest, a shark-infested reef off Belize. These are poems that arrive with a jolt, engulfing the familiar, before being left to linger or dissolve.
“How Joe Pan just lets the world occur in Hiccups is a pleasure.”
“These verses I found charming, always, even when downcast, and exhilarating in bulk—if works so well carved from cherry stones may be said to have bulk.”
“What’s the opposite of a suicide note? If there is a “life note,” then this is it, taking us from casino to glacier, our attention a pinball, a staccato of seasons.”
“If Walt Whitman wrote haiku, they might sound like Joe Pan’s capacious short poems in Hiccups, a luminous “Song of Myself” for the twenty-first century.”