Christine Hume

This review of Musca Domestica by Christine Hume appeared in Publisher’s Weekly sometime in 2000.

“A flypaper palimpsest.” This book is an experience of seeing from the perspective of a housefly (the Musca Domestica of the book’s title). Like a fly, the poet perceives the world in fragments and then pieces them together to create a multi-layered mosaic of images and sensations. The constantly shifting eye of the poems catches glimpses of the visual residue of our peripheral vision, and finds inspiration not from what was assembled into a perceptible image, but what was seen in fragments. Like a housefly that feeds off of debris, these poems find nourishment in what the eye cannot use. Scurrying around in the residue of sight, the poet discovers that our perceptions have more to do with how we piece them together than they do with a pre-packaged coherence or unity:

“When you looked, my fly hurried to disappear / into everything sideways grown” (31).

The intense visual processing and their fragmentary quality captures shifting perceptions more accurately than straight forward narrative. In order to convey hidden layers of perception, the poet has developed a unique voice which uses a hybrid of many different poetic influences, from surrealism to language poetry:

“The proof makes another flight / her moth-talk holds the signature of / gray wings in her throat (38)

This book explores how language, like vision, pieces together a world that can only be perceived through poetry.

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