Candice Louisa Daquin Reviews On Un Becoming, aesthetic evolution of this rising ancestor, a poetic memoir by Hokis

Hokis produced her book without anyone else, I’d say she birthed it, and as such, did not want most of us involved in its creation. It was a very personal book and it reads as such. This alone has worth as a memoir and a moment of her life put into language.

In my absence, I am substantial.
What you pine for is
pretty fucking
inconsequential.
(I AM [not a] SUBSTANCE)

Hokis isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. When I first read her, I immediately appreciated her originality but some others did not. This could be a simple case, of what is original isn’t always mainstream, but I suspect many people don’t actually ‘get’ Hokis and this could also be why she produces things without needing others.

In On Un Becoming, aesthetic evolution of this rising ancestor, a poetic memoir, the first thing you’ll be drawn to is the impeccably beautiful cover and layout. This is high art with poetry. Beyond the obvious beauty, Hokis has laid down the tracks of her life thus far in an exquisitely honest rendering.

I like the feeling of dopamine’s hand
as it leads me to the apple’d tree.
I have a God complex,
believing the only person to help is me.
(BECAUSE)

People can become frustrated with certain forms of poetic license and Hokis definitely bends the norm with her continual use of structure and syntax to form a language almost of her own. A line of Hokis is not a line of poetry, it’s her sign-language. Maybe people fear those destroyed boundaries and this is actually a huge compliment;

It is all just the lonely game of words.
No matter the form, the rules, the structure.
No matter the he/she/them, it is all the same dance.
They just want to know what it feels like.
I can comply and rape myself, again.
(HERE, just take (fuck) IT)

Personally, I find this kind of poetry really intoxicatingly different, which is a positive thing, and memorable, which is what we all hope to be in some form or fashion. Not every poem blows me away, but the honesty behind Hokis and who she is as a writer, does. And when she gets it really right, she’s literally out there with the stars and it makes the hair on my neck stand on end. Few provoke this response and only the truly fearless are capable of rendering it.

There is a detail and a madness that some could interpret as true madness rather than poetic madness. I would say, does it really matter which? But for clarification’s sake, my belief is Hokis is probably one of the sanest among us. Her poetic license is the way she speaks as a poet, and it has a certain cadence and rhythm uniquely her own. If you read a Hokis poem, you know a Hokis poem.

For Hokis, love is the redeemer, and this memoir is a lot about that, as well as the passing of her father, and the ultimate conclusion that we (and Hokis) must strive to rest in peace if we are to attain any settlement in life.

On the one hand, everything said here, is simple, whilst on the other, there are strains of depth that plunge our deepest fears and experiences, and dare to pull them up into the light. Hokis has a bewitching ability to do this without truly disturbing us, though some of what she refers to, is by its very nature, disturbing and serious.

There is more to a desert earth flower,
than the point in which the spike enters her skin.
The structure of nature,
mimics throughout
the everything of the nothing.
(Pistols, Stamens, and Spikes)

I appreciate how Hokis doesn’t shy away from what matters. She dedicates this book to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and I first read Hokis a few months after the #metoo movement had begun to wane. I am glad to see her passion for keeping it alive hasn’t diminished and I much admire her courage and sincerity as a human-being wishing to spread vital messages through her work.

Those ill-versed in reading poetry, may simply not understand the poetry of Hokis. She is so far removed from the straight-forward plethora of social media poets, as to be unrecognizable. I call her a ‘real’ poet, because she’s unafraid to wax lyrical and long and within this, she has a sanguinity of soul that is both affirming and true.

One may argue, Hokis delves into the nitty-gritty and pulls out the guts and garters of real emotion, with her liberal use of stark and sometimes shocking words and imagery. As this is true, so is the weave behind her language, so astute and considered, no word is misused or just wrought for the sake of it.

the wire cutters of humility keep pace
cutting through
all the shadowed bullshit
like a moonlit metronome
(Around, Over, Under, and Through)

She may at first appear to be indulging those of us who like confessional or shocking poetry, but that’s far from her goal. She is simply speaking her truths, using the symbols of her experiences which are necessarily uncensored.

If I did not know her at all, as was the case when I first began to read Hokis, I should still understand the concepts behind her alluding and metaphor, because they’re universal. It is her willingness to proffer them to the reader, which makes them all the more palpable. Whom among us has not questioned what siblings mean to us, how to cope with death? What do we feel about sex? Hokis begs the question and lets us to some extent, answer it, within her writing.

Hokis isn’t for everyone and I very much like that. To me, it seems a greater compliment to be that rarified writer who will appeal to those who ‘get’ her, than to be a mainstream shake-n-bake writer who everyone buys in airport lounges. Hokis isn’t an airport lounge kind of woman, she’s a tear down boundaries, shove them in your face type of woman, and you can’t forget her once you’re hooked.

Do I understand everything in OnBecoming? Hell no. And I love that. Because if we really grasped the whole of a writer, we might tire of them. There is something hypnotic and endlessly intense about not grasping aspects, a bit like being besotted by a beautiful woman but not being able to get too close. Poetry should retain some mystery, as should the author, and too often we see the machinations behind the careful words, which leave no room for the imagination, no questions. I appreciate that with Hokis, the likelihood of understanding her completely is nil.

Could it be that I’m sorry
because had I heard him
not even my tap root could have prevented me
from becoming the mighty wooden predator
who would have left the bladed-prey –
without a prayer.
(Sapling’s Apology)

Poetry is a maze; we enjoy the journey even if we don’t comprehend every step taken. Our interpretation of what an author writes, may be so far removed from their initial intention. Hokis leaves us guessing, whilst giving us enough to whet our appetite and keep us curious. She writes using many different styles and doesn’t have a predictability in her approach, which only adds to the variety.

Equally, other poems are self-explanatory, and demonstrate the poet’s humor and considered understanding of modern politics, the fallacy of facts and the fragility of sanity. You cannot read Hokis without thinking, perhaps even puzzling, she’s just not superficial and you won’t be able to skim through her and find a pretty picture, she’s going to demand that you use your head and listen carefully.

I smiled reading this. Hokis makes me smile with her cleverness, her originality and her dark humor. I like even her tragedy because it has grit. She’s not sentimental, she’s bold, she’s not predictable, she’s bizarre, she’s not likable, she’s quarrelsome and brilliant, and most of all she’s like no other poet you’ll read today.

I hate myself
lIke I hate the InabIlIty to alter
the dIrectIon the world spIns.
(Plated ProjectIon)

In a glut of pretty, boring, and vapid, choose OnUn Becoming and find yourself immersed in the infinitely strange, tantalizing, unrestrained world of Hokis and her startling mind. Her selection here is quite unforgettable and will get the grey matter whirling and your heart pumping. How many writers can you honestly say can do that these days? Without doubt, you will not, you cannot, read someone who will remind you of Hokis. She’s in a genre of her own.

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