Last Monday in the fourth floor programming room, poet Bob Hicok read about ten selections from his recent book. Hicok’s poetry covered a large gamut of topics, all of which were relevant in modern times. It was not merely words on a page thrown into some order for aesthetics sake, but rather a well thought out evaluation of many areas of his life and the world around him that are filled with disappointments or bliss, depending on the poem. His poetry also has a great deal of relevance to the topics we have recently discussed in class. In particular his poems “A Sense of a Sense of Community”, “Weebles Wobble but They Don’t Fall Down” and “Feeling the Draft” connect to items brought up in class and various themes seen throughout The Whale Rider. Hicok’s poetry covers many aspects of life, including the economic and emotional struggles many communities face, like the Maori tribe in The Whale Rider.
Hicok prefaced “A Sense of A Sense of Community” by talking about how he wrote this as a collection of utopian thought basically. The main idea behind it was a sense of equality, and a “large hope that people can interact together”. I thought this tied in well with the discussion we had about the article regarding the perception of Loyola students for many people in Baltimore. It’s really a shame that this view of Loyola students is prevalent enough to merit an article, and Hicok’s poem touched on that idea. As some of the more privileged people in the Baltimore community, we should make our best effort to interact with the city and all its residents. The best way I feel to do this is through service, which allows you to interact with people experiencing many different levels of suffering and gain a greater awareness of our responsibility to our community as students. Hicok’s idea holds true here, for if we can all successfully interact together it would be a great step towards bridging the many societal gaps we face today.
His second poem “Weebles Wobble but They Don’t Fall Down” also touched on a similar topic, specifically the constraints the recent economic turmoil has put on people. His sister, he explained, lost her job and had to move back in with his parents. The idea he presented alongside this, however, was a slight sense of optimism in the face of this hindrance. This is very similar to the tradition/modernity dichotomy presented in The Whale Rider. In the book, the tradition and the overall condition of the tribe is threatened by the resistance to change in tradition by Koro. Yet throughout all of this Kahu remains positive, even through all the struggles she sees her family going through. Hicok presents this idea in a more modern setting, and although there isn’t as much of a tradition, the idea of survival is present in both. “Feeling the Draft” is in the same vane, centering on a family dealing with the absence of one of its sons due to war. There is, from a certain standpoint, a war raging in the Maori tribe between tradition and modernity, and everyone suffers in their own way. As Hicok touches on, nothing good can really come out of a fight such as this.
I personally found Hicok’s reading to be very insightful and pleasant to listen to. His poems are all written in common language so as not to seem esoteric and to appeal to everyone, and I think he does a very good job of that. Overall, his ability to write poetry with a modern connection made it all the more valuable and relevant to the discussions held in this class.