Diamond plate by W. Joe Hoppe
(poetry, paperback, 78 pages, 2012) – $10.00
Joe is an Austin writer with Michigan roots- his style conveys the laid back warmth of Texas-weird, with the meticulous skill of a Detroit machinist. As a hotrodder and car customizer, he understands the Zen of the maker. As a community college writing teacher, he understands the struggle to transcend the blue-collar environment, to customize everyday words, to feel the rush as a poem goes down the track, dialed-in and banging on all eight cylinders.
When I launched OBSOLETE! Magazine in 2010, it was my hope that I could attract writers and artists that shared my reverence for print and understood that paper and ink as a medium is relevant. People who understood the physicality of reading an old-school underground newspaper. I wasn’t looking for nostalgia from my contributors, but rather some subtle alchemy- the magick that converts cheap newsprint into a weapon against conformity and that invites deeper interaction than a blog post. No one has delivered more consistently than W. Joe Hoppe.
His first submission to OBSOLETE!, featured in issue #3, was a poem called “Twelve Second Quarter Mile”, which epitomizes the Hoppe vibe:
These words so simple and forgiving
my poems routinely dropped
chopped and channeled
lowered and louvered and
sectioned and scalloped
faster than my fingers
though not so quick as my thoughts
I love that for Joe, there is no difference in attitude between the craftsmanship of hands-on projects and writing. In OBSOLETE! #4, Joe contributed a great technical essay on how to convert a car to run on propane…then went back to poetry without missing a beat.
But it’s not all about the cars, it’s about the journey. In Joe’s first book, Galvanized his poems take the reader on a cross-country trip from Minnesota to New Mexico, capturing scenes with the spontaneity of a tourist’s snapshot, but with the eye of a veteran photographer. The gem “Vernal” describes the coming of spring:
It slid right down the earth’s new tilt
sails aligned with the sun’s new angle
a steady pushing
through every stem and limb
Reviewer Charlotte Jackson wrote of “Galvanized”: “For every high-octane poem, like the Evil Knievel fantasy of “The Sky Has Fallen and the Night Has Broke,” there’s a diamond-cut still life: say, “Each Second Shining,” which details “stainless steel hex nuts/falling like raindrops/to a polished concrete floor.”
I am proud to present Joe’s second book, “Diamond Plate”, as the first title published under the new OBSOLETE! Publishing imprint. It represents the next phase in our evolution as a publisher, and Joe brings to the table an expanded range and a more experimental- and sometimes even playful- approach to the writing. I think it’s a perfect first outing for us as a book publisher.
It has been my great pleasure to work with Joe on this book, and I hope it will be the first of many. After spending time with Joe’s poems, I know that readers will look forward seeing much more from W. Joe Hoppe.