Review of The Lord of Everywhere by John Hodgen

Lynx House Press, Paperback, 62 pages. $19.95

By Cameron Scott

Scaffolded around Romans 8:38-39, Hodgen’s Lord of Everywhere launches its reader into a constellation of sounds, ideas, things, and images. These are poems built from word seeds, from thoughts which launch back and forth between music and association, association and music, until they find their way toward a lyrical end. However, much like the verses which they serve, these poems don’t necessarily have an ending. They are, more than anything, about the words and worlds which emerge all around Hodgen, creating Hodgen’s everywhere.

Hodgen distills the verses and main ideas of  Romans 8:38-39 down into the following sections for his book: “…neither death nor life…” “nor angels…” “nor principalities, nor powers…” “nor things present, nor things to come…” “nor height nor depth, nor any other creature… .” In doing so, Hodgen roots his reader with wayposts and a focused direction to read and a lens to experience the myriads of things that compose his world, giving purchase to poems, like grief, that often wander in search of solace and sense.

Led deeply by music, Hodgen in a poem like “On Wishing St. Augustine and Jimi Hendrix Were Here” writes:

Praise Venus at the Half Shell Station. Hail her triumph, her greatness, her girth.
Wrap her in raiment, lift her, woman never to be named, electric lady of the fallen earth.
Come back to us now, Voodoo Child, Lord of Grace. Find us in this broken place. 

 

What I love most in Hodgen’s poems is how often they lose themselves to music, to the constellation in Hodgen’s life. Some of the music lands and takes root, others times it appears uncontrollable and breaks into itself as in his poem “Twenty-Two.”

Cassius beat Liston, Salinger was drafted, Hemmingway went to Paris, Byron turned blue
crossing the Hellespont. And you, and you, twenty-two, everyone asking, What do you do?,
each day getting longer, the tightened thumbscrew, the koo koo kachoo, this rue for you,
this solid flesh, this pistol shot, this too, too. Adieu, adieu, the ululu, the constant queue…

 

At its best, and these poems are often at their best, Hodgen’s poetry in Lord of Everywhere evokes an emotional and occasionally physical reaction to the way they unfold. A power rises from the melodies and rhythms, while over the course of these poems the reader is exposed to countless snippets of cultural references, skyscraper sequences which build on top of each other, one after the other, into a bustling cultural landscape.