Utah State University Press/ University Press of Colorado
“Christina Hutchins combines a pitch-perfect and precise lyricism with a postmodern sensibility of language’s materiality… If the poetry’s music tethers these poems internally, what holds them together in theme and subject is the thread of the elegiac at both personal and historical levels. “Who can bear history?” Hutchins asks hauntingly throughout this volume… [It] seems at times a moral imperative (to imagine evil, as Robert Duncan famously urged of Denise Levertov), but at other times in Tender the Maker, it is Life’s unrepeatable, glorious Mystery, on which this beautiful collection so tenderly muses.” —From the foreword by Cynthia Hogue, Judge
“There is presence in apparent absence, the proof of which, these poems remind us, is memory, affections, and language. And so comes this book—elegant elegy, tenderly made—which sparks in turn deepened attention to what is. “If only making love did not also make loss,” Hutchins writes. But in this moving work, making loss makes love.”
—Forrest Hamer, author of Rift and Middle Ear
“Verbally lush and nimble-minded, Christina Hutchins’ poems conduct the upheavals, griefs, and wild splendors of life with a rare and marvelous aplomb.” —Dean Young, author of Bender: New and Selected Poems and The Art of Recklessness
“An elegantly crafted, dense work that invites readers to travel on spiritual, philosophical, and historical journeys.”
“The name that came to me was Robert Lowell, the early Lowell of
Lord Weary’s Castle. Like Lowell’s poems, Hutchins’s often arise
as formidable cohesions of diction, meter, syntax, image, and
time. The two poets live among words in ways that are both
densely aural and densely imagined… These poems do not share subject or style. What they do share is the flexible power of the unspooling sentence. Both poets have listened to English as a composer might listen to Beethoven….
… Hutchins offers [her] imaginings with enormous generosity. She,
as the maker of these poems, holds herself accountable for their
tenderness. In this way she reminds me, at times, of Jane
Kenyon, despite the different physicalities of their writing styles.
Like Kenyon, she is always aware of the “luminous particular”—
the concrete reality that communicates the ineffable….
…In his “Ninth Elegy,” Rainer Maria Rilke writes that “truly being
here is so much; because everything here / apparently needs us,
this fleeting world, which in some strange way / keeps calling to
us. Us, the most fleeting of all.” Hutchins, too, ponders this
ambiguity, this sense of seeing oneself as both necessary and
extraneous. The theme is woven throughout Tender the Maker,
though she reconfigures it within a variety of voices and settings.
In “The Disappearing Doors,” for instance, she invents a bardic
speaker who proffers a generational comfort:
O celebration, human, do not despair the days,
your life. In Venice, old stone stairs
march down the tide. Slow-rising
waters submerge the generations, remnant
hollows of their footsteps, cupped sills,
the houses’ bright doors….”
–Beloit Poetry Journal
“A lifetime, and a whole geography of dread. Hutchins takes us all over the world, whether it’s places she’s been to herself, from Russia and West Germany to San Jose, CA – before it was disfigured into Silicon Valley – and along countless highways, or places like Vietnam that open themselves up to her imagination through photographs. Places loaded with history – be it the intimate ones of childhood or the brutal ones of concentration camps and workers’ strikes that highlight the enduring impact of oppression and repression. Each poem becomes a map where time and space intersect and unearth connections that help us confront the weight of history, whether our own or that of others. It’s the intimate history that may be the most devastating, though, as it’s the one that teaches the most direct experience of loss: the father’s struggle with Alzheimer’s and, later on, his death, are recounted in solitary scenes stripped down to the core of their emotional force…
… Hutchins’s awareness of how spirituality may imbue our acts of creation goes deep – she is, after all, a professor in theology, among other things – but these are not poems of faith, per se, as they eschew any kind of stilted sacralization, but rather poems that tend towards the mysteries of creation, that attempt, simply put, to restore our faith in the act of writing.