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Michael McGriff: “Rehearsing All Our Names”—On Robert Hunter Jones’s Winter Garden

Winter Garden Robert Hunter Jones Silverfish Review Press, 2016 Feeling proximity to a work of art is seductive. For example, I’ve convinced myself that the paintings of Marc Chagall and the novels of Per Peterson are tailored-made just for me—an audience of one. Whatever words best describe this very particular, very greedy, sense of possession must be the definition for great art. I feel a similar possessive closeness to Robert Hunter Jones’s new book of poetry, Winter Garden. This sense of exclusive connectivity is a fallacy, of course, yet it speaks to the reach and depth—the spell—that Jones’s vision and craft cast over me. Here, in its entirety, is “Changing Names.” There is no sound of water. You’ve nailed the river to its stones. This dream is so real you can’t stop living it. The night opens like a lizard’s mouth and you slide down in. You wake to dark so deep it becomes someone else’s silence. Try out the name you feel on your tongue. It sounds almost right. Try again and it’s closer. The …