Joe Fletcher’s The Hatch contemplates the mystery of human consciousness through a series of narrative poems constructed in a gradually developing, non-linear collection of verse and prose pieces overflowing with morbidity, misdirection and disconcertion. Not for the faint of heart, The Hatch immerses its reader in an expansive environment resultant of Fletcher’s painstaking efforts to ensure that every detail has the power to incite apprehension and morbid curiosity.
An aspect of the collection that really shines out is the world built within its pages. Every poem Fletcher includes adds to the conceptualization of a realm outside of geography, time or physical law. He achieves this effect through the introduction of temporary characters and lore such as in his poem “Isaiah”, and the manufacturing of a linguistic flow that takes the reader through a chronologically warped series of sensory imagery like in “Saturn Day” or “The Vegetable Staticks”.
It is evident that Fletcher utilized a variety of creative approaches to construct the ideas for The Hatch. Fletcher’s work draws from a myriad of places, Egyptian and Greek mythologies are present, and creative influences like Tolekin and Poe can be felt. At times these references are subtle and incite within the reader a pleasant sense of familiarity, like his naming of a character Leonora alluding to Poe’s classic “Lenore”, simultaneously adding a new perspective for interpretation of the work. Yet, other applications of these references feel overused or underdeveloped, such as the nautical motifs that appear regularly throughout the first half of the book, which often nod to ideas like the River Styx or Boat of the Dead, but feel stale quickly with such persistent but not particularly novel exploration.
There are a few moments that feel cliché and poetic forms that feel unoriginal or forced. The brief, undeveloped escapades into interpersonal relationships and some uninspired rhyme schemes add a layer of blandness to the reader’s experience. Generally, Fletcher’s embracing of his individuality as a creator manages to shine through clearly.
Fletcher presents a multitude of unique ideas to his reader through the imagery and chronology of the poems he writes, and often presents them in a seamless manner. Fletcher communicates an undeniable resolve to create exactly the art he wants to in as comprehensive a form as possible. Anyone in search of a contemporary twist on psychological horror need not look any further than The Hatch.
Review by Colin Boyd, book review intern
The Furious Gazelle received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review