The Hello Delay asks what happens around the saying of a thing and the receiving. Inside and outside of our daily communications, there are events, there are silences, déjà-vus, and intentions. These poems question the determined nature of our relationships to one another: What if this territory isn’t familiar after all?
I Will Whisper
it to you so that someone else may hear it. whether or not it’s heard by you, whether or not I hear it myself—that it is heard by a stranger.
stranger and stranger. get out the fires and fire hoses, put away the stars. daybreak breaks into noon breaks into after, and after is a song, and singing makes you calmer. that’s okay but what are they saying down the street and lost on you, lost on you, lost on you.
In this human ecology, language is king. In this book, familiarity resides in memory or song, but perhaps nothing is so familiar as the experience of the present. What is it then to be present, when meaning persists among us? We are more than what we say and what we think, but these words are the lucite passages we travel to that aggregate.
In this place where understanding means being wrong together or just pretending to be right, Choffel’s poems honor the grandeur, the danger, and the mediocrity in manifesting what we make up as we go along. The Hello Delay might be experimental, but it is mostly experiential. It calls us out not to see how we will answer but to linger in the gaps of our refrain.
“This book works with one of those serious beautiful struggles–how to be someone to something, in a world where ‘I’ and ‘thou’ are so often nothing to no one, where ‘pronouns are disasters.’ We readers of poetry are ‘uncertain animals’, and, lucky for us, Julie Choffel’s poems get caught up in the filmy place between our uncertainty and our animality. Her work has both the delicacy and the ungainly chaos of forms emerging from raw materials curiously moving toward thinghood, following their vowels toward meaning: ‘the topical, psychotropic battle’. The Hello Delay is teeming with animist music, animal motion, and human circumspection. Teeming.”
. . . Choffel's work doesn't present the material world, it presents all of its mysteries; it haunts you.
—The Brooklyn Rail
Julie Choffel's debut book of poems, The Hello Delay, welcomes us into a world where there is no repetition, instead endless iterations of the same connections, falling deep into the imaginative hole of existence. It is very quickly in the book that we realize that this is our world, too. Choffel softens this news, by letting us know from the get-go that this "poetry is not a camera." And no, this is not a poetry that simply captures the everyday like a camera, but instead generously gives us neverendngly gorgeous, breathtakingly beautiful manifestations of it. So, that we might approach life with sweetness and begin to appreciate the continuous mystery. And in doing so, we know that Choffel is a master poet, one who will guide us through this life and beyond it.
Exploring the concepts of familiarity and its force in our lives, The Hello Delay is not a read to overlook.