The Life of a Hunter
“No woods here, but The Life of a Hunter nevertheless leaps like a gigantic cat ‘far from God’s irresistible ordering of reality,’ smack into ours. Michelle Robinson’s first book is a brilliant and hopelessly antic poetry, riffing off of everything, from the crime novel to Shakespeare, into ‘a trembling non sequitur,’ as she puts it early on in ‘Pepper.’ This is a powerful poetic study of the contemporary psyche, including hers, so the playful surfaces yield to emotional places. A vulnerable and refreshing wit emerges, artfully real.”—Jane Miller, author of A Palace of Pearls
“‘I cannot tell half of what I saw,’ writes Michelle Robinson, and then does, vigorously, urgently. It is no accident that her collection’s title echoes The Night of the Hunter; this book begins and ends with death and perfidy, seen through an unblinking eye. In between, lives and places, films and books, characters and artworks clamor as the ‘hunter’ traces a path through hell, purgatory, and finally love in all its messy configurations. With moments of laugh-out-loud humor that would be goofy if they weren’t so mordant, this is a compassionate and fierce collection.”—Susan Wheeler, author of Ledger and Record Palace
Part detective novel, part cinematic saga, part street-smart narrative, the poems in The Life of a Hunter form a document of expedition that couples individual discovery with communal transformation. Michelle Robinson’s characters are consigned to particular mechanisms of survival to various forms of physical and psychological evolutions—as a reaction to their search for an acceptable spiritual condition. The multiple identities of her pressured characters are susceptible to physical transformations that provide “a brief jolt of anesthesia, / instead of the cold tenderness of interruption.”
Robinson uses the culture of film and fiction as an analogy for the world just out of reach and the world already at hand; preoccupied with what precision “sounds like,” the figures in her poems respond to the possibility of future change as well as the fact that change is a constant in their lives. “Don’t misunderstand. It was the most cynical year of our era / and anything would have been better than to have been asked / to find something beautiful.” Robinson’s is a strong young voice, detached and observant yet disturbingly present.