Space on Earth by Emily Hockaday, Reviewed by editor Kristiane Weeks-Rogers
The Milky Way. Splitting an atom. Glacious mountains. Skin cells. Emily Hockaday’s fourth chap collection, Space on Earth, is a journey examining space and scopes in and out of Earth. Published by Grey Book Press, the collection introduces us to a hypothesis encompassing vast and small space: “Maybe I am fascinated by space/ because I wish I could fill it/ with my one small body” ("Universe Expanding Faster than Previously Thought, Telescope Finds"). Each poem represents a theoretical means of filling space through self-examination, which is perhaps best shown in one of many favorite lines in the collection: “Day/ by day, my heart becomes smaller,/ with fewer vacant rooms" ("Scattering Your Ashes").
Within these large (or small) examinations, Hockaday’s poems are not lofty, or beyond any reader’s accessibility. There is a very tangible mapping of the body through mapping physical landscape. Another theory-poem, "Since Eyjafjallajökull Erupted," mirrors the opening line of the collection by expressing “maybe/ what is magic is this: a short-lived mammal/ and her existential crisis speeding by/ the slow moving ice…” Here, Hockaday seems to be onto something about space’s magical properties.
There are stories here so deeply personal to Hockaday that they allow readers to feel right there with her, rolling through emotions and observations. Whether at home, crossing the Hudson, or traveling over and across Iceland, I am happy to take the journey with Hockaday—trailing her footprints, eating up her knowledge along the way, drinking it down like the Lichen schnapps mentioned near the gravitational point of the collection. Within the self and land examinations, Hockaday touches on Viking mythology as well, exploring how these histories weave into us, for in the “Viking sagas, language is/ roundabout. A sword is a blood/ worm; blood battle sweat. Is it this/ that made me a poet? Around/ my finger: a ring of Frejya’s tears" ("Kenning"). I always treasure poetry which is self-aware, Frank O’Hara-esque, goes on the nerve and states out loud the internal struggles of arriving at the poet destination. Is the land what makes us poets, or do we make poetry of the land? Through the vehicle of this collection, Hockaday is exploring both.
October 8, 2019
Kristiane Weeks-Rogers grew up around Lake Michigan and earned higher education degrees in Florida and Indiana in English and Creative Writing. She earned her MFA at Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado. She currently teaches writing and composition courses at the collegiate level. She enjoys hiking, creating arts, and drinking coffee and libations with her husband around the Rocky Mountains while discovering what ghosts really are.