Monday, December 3, 2018

Book Review: 'The Masque of Marilyn' by Matthew Hittinger

The New York poet Matthew Hittinger is now in that realm of `important poets of our time'. The publications of his poems increases every year and his works appear in important poetry collections of the highest order. One reason for Hittinger's ever growing popularity is the fact that he experiments with new visual presentations of his words as well as exploring new avenues of thought - fantasies admixed with reality, humanistic themes married to mythological tradition, re-visiting dead poets and artists and finding new pathways to make them come alive in the present time. THE MASQUE OF MARILYN, the title of this newest collection published by GOSS183 Publishing House, graced with cover art by Matthew and Didi Menendez, is a collage of poems that addresses Marilyn Monroe, but not biographically – rather the influence the goddess of Hollywood created. Or as the poet’s description states, ‘through poems, dream logs, and dramatic monologues, these works conjure a kaleidoscopic pageant of voices—from Marlene Dietrich to Mae West, Montgomery Clift to Maila Nurmi to Norma Jean herself—to reimagine the Marilyn Monroe icon.’ And as Hittinger continues to grow and enjoy wide publication in many journals and anthologies his sophistication of the manner in which he honors words as thoughts grows. His other books include THE EROTIC POSTULATE, SKIN SHIFT, PEAR SLIP, and NARCISSUS RESISTS.

We sneak into the dubbing studio, snap
headphones and queue the scene, wait

for the screen to countdown and cue me.
I repeat the subtitled words, time our lips:

Tell me, who runs up that flag – your wife?
You star opposite, Tony Curtis

in disguise. No, my flag steward. I pucker:
And who mixes the cocktails – your wife?

We’ve drawn a crowd at the observation
window. No, my cocktail steward. Look,

if you’re not interested in whether I’m married
or not – I stifle a giggle: I’m not interested

at all. You adjust your imaginary fedora.
Well, I’m not. I say my last line and we hit

play. Marilyn’s mouth opens and my voice
blooms form her bosom, perfectly in sync

to a shaky Tony Curtis take. We laugh
as or last lines repeat in the booth: I’m not

interested at all. Waiting for the beat – Well,
I’m not – is key. That’s VERY interesting.

Attempting to share the magic of Matthew’s superlative book with a single work is like plucking off one pearl from a strand – without the whole strand the spheres are just beads. Read him cover to cover and re-discover Marilyn Monroe. Grady Harp, October 17
I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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