The World Gains a Sonneteer: A Personal Review of Ethan Hanson’s “Memos in the Margins” by Andy Riley

I first met Ethan Hanson (they/she) at the Gulo Gulo poetry open mic at Wolverine Farm.  She was reading sonnets.  We talked about sonnet cycles and what those are and how she got into writing them. I asked; through Mayer and Berrigan?  She said Diane Seuss.  I said that I print chapbooks, and a few months later, here we are.  Ethan’s first pronouncement!  It’s a good one.  I’m going to call it modern.  Some words are hidden behind black bars, but as the person who printed them, I assure you they’re there.  If there’s anyone I know of who’s put down what it’s like to be twenty in Fort Collins on paper, it’s Ethan.  Talking about Reddit and solace sex and “class for rocks.”

These are breakup poems to put it broadly.  The exchanges are broad but the language is tight, colloquial, she talks like someone from our state.  She talks in the language.  Whenever I think of Ethan’s poetry I think “She says all sorts of things I would never say.”  But I realized that I can’t say them.  I like Ethan’s work because she isn’t afraid to say weird shit, and keep the weird shit in.  I read once that that was some of Larry Fagin’s advice was to keep it weird.  Check this out:

She used to do this,
wiggle wiggle thing, with her hips
when she wanted to have sex, sorta press
into me until
I woke up.
In Mesa Verde we woke up,
god it was dark, it was,
thundering, and she was wiggle
I turned over and I said
no and she was sad
and I couldn’t handle that
and I left the tent
I came back and explained.

We have entered a new decade.  A new poet is up to bat.  I am in awe that I got to help put this out.  As Jack Kerouac once said about Jack Micheline: “It’s the nuts.”

Something magic can happen in fourteen lines.

You can find a free scan of the chapbook on Ethan’s blog “Istoria:”

Andy Riley is a poet and printer from Fort Collins, Colorado.  He is the editor of Acerglyn Sometimes Zine.  He is 20 years old.

Cover image by Lucille Wright