[Secret Letters by j/j hastain was published in October by Crisis Chronicles Press.  As Juliet Cook of Blood Pudding Press is a fine poet and and one of my favorite publishers, I am most grateful that she’s offered the following response to j/j’s book.]

Secret Letters cover art by Marnie Weber



This isn’t going to be a standard book review, so much as a small array of thoughts and feelings derived from partaking of its content.


Well, I guess the first part could be perceived as akin to a semi-standard mini-review – but then the red part in the middle is focused on personal divergence regarding female blood flow and clots and positive/negative creative horrific overly personal goop – and then when the font color turns black again, the two perspectives fuse together and end my review. I’ll go ahead and number them into three sections, in case some people would rather avoid the overly personal section two.




Part 1: (Mini- Review)


“There are ways to turn the orbs inside out without having to break them.”




Like most of j/j hastain’s poetry collections that I’ve read, much of the content fuses visceral imagery with the mind’s perception of mental/physical relationships, how the body responds and why.  The mind and body fusion is not just focused on the outer body, but also inwardly.  In “Secret Letters”, this inward focus includes positioning, the liquids inside, and different kinds of perception of (experimentation with) insemination and reproduction, both mental and physical.


“I told them to tie me to the cross that had never been forced upright.”




The liquids inside could be explored as an attempt to discover one’s own non-traditional mind/body connections and/or desires and/or spirituality – to find oneself (and/or another variation of oneself and/or a partner for oneself) on a deeper level.


“Digging in the moist meadow I unearthed a set of swan wings that had been dyed red. The wings were somehow animate and flapping without them having a center”




Much of j/j’s work is described as having a cross-genre, trans-genre focus and while I don’t disagree with that, most of the recent content I’ve read by j/j strikes me as uniquely feminine, in which the primary genre amalgamation seems womanly and earthly – female mind and body combined with the ground, dirt, water, plants (transplants), animals, birds, and blood flow.  Underground, buried down, dug up, re-birthed, renewed and open to more exploration.

****Click here to read Juliet Cook’s entire response, including “Part 2: (Overly Personal Goop)” and “Fusion Mix Finale.”****

Juliet Cook is editor/publisher of a one-woman indie press, Blood Pudding Press, which specializes in poetry and artsy little misfit offerings.  She also edits Blood Pudding Press’s spooky sister, an online blog-style literary magazine called Thirteen Myna Birds, which is always accepting submissions.  She is the author of more books than I can count, including Horrific Confection (2008, BlazeVOX), Post-Stroke (2011, Blood Pudding Press for dusie kollektiv 5), Thirteen Designer Vaginas (2011, Hyacinth Girl Press) and Poisonous Beautyskull Lollipop (2013, Grey Book Press).