A noteworthy American poet
Bob Hicok is an elusive man. You’d be hard pressed to find his volumes at the library, or Barnes and Noble. However, luckily for you, the quest for his work can be avoided as I’ve done the legwork and bought him to you myself. For those who do put in the work, they will find a grail of a poet who can sculpt emotions and responses like clay, and who uses words for creation akin to how a chef uses his knives.
Bob is an American poet born in Michigan in 1960, and has 5 published volumes of poetry. He has gone through a host of odd professions including working in the automotive die industry, and has been a professor of creative writing at Western Michigan University and Virginia Tech, where he currently teaches English. This interesting professional history sheds light on some of Hicoks poetry, such as the line “My sister's out of work and my brother's out of work and my other brother's out of work” from his poem In These Times. The job hunt for hicok has always been a central theme in his writing due to the fact that “Poets aren't famous…” And thusly, Hicok lived in his home state scraping out a living until 6 years ago when he finally decided to fly the coop.
Hiciks poems are not for the faint of heart; he writes freely about death, love, terror, sex, and the things that scare us the most: what we can’t control. He does this all without pulling punches, and speaks with a raw voice that can and does anything from grabbing you by the throat and throwing you into the mind of bar fight participants, to completely destroying your perception of random household objects.
Hicok has a very broad reach over poetical concepts. He glides between vague and philosophical lines such as “My left hand will live longer than my right. The rivers of my palms tell me so… Never expect your lives to finish at the same time”, to talking about how he has “been beat up in a bar for saying huevos rancheros in a way insulting to the patrons ethnicity.” Hicoks poetry keeps one at the edge of their seat performing mental backflips wondering what could possibly come next.
Bob himself goes through great lengths to meticulously describe the intricacies of his poetic writing method. It is as follows:
He keeps it simple. Apart from the complex methods of brainstorming one would expect form such a seasoned poet, he simply states “you begin with a blank space and have to fill it with what comes from your mind.” And that’s what he does exactly. Anything at all residing in his head is fair game, including a personal admission of “removing silk that did not belong to [his] wife”, and his fathers heart breaking condition: “[he] sits at the table trying to breath in tiny bites.” The level of intimacy in Hicoks poetry is one I have not often seen.
Do not however, hasten to classify Hicok as some sort of modern shock poet, as this is untrue and does not represent his work as a whole. Along with his fun and games, Hicok delivers meaningful stanzas in droves, and since much of his work is metaphorical and up to ones own interpretation, I would not be doing you all justice if I weren’t to let you yourselves hear one.