by Doug Hoekstra
Songwriter and author Doug Hoekstra has been favoring us with his art for a while – his first solo record, When the Tubes Begin to Glow was released in 1994, and now, with the release of his third book Unopened, it’s fair to say that Hoekstra has learned his craft well. This book of poetry – following Bothering the Coffee Drinkers from 2006 and his delightful look at his love of baseball, 2015’s The Tenth Inning – is vintage Hoekstra. Topics range from fatherhood to music, relationships to politics, broken into three sections.
Poetry is a singular endeavor, for the most part. The writer puts his thoughts into verse, onto paper, with no idea of how his creation will be taken. There is generally no crowd gathered to witness the birth of a poem, and a poet sends his creations out into the world with equal parts hope and fear. The best art resonates because it causes an emotional response – the rest is doggerel. It could be a song that makes you recall a memory, a novel that informed you, or, in the case with Doug Hoekstra, a poem that so precisely illuminates a “sudden enlightenment” – a satori. This came for me reading his ode to irreverent rascal fellow poet “Buk”:
write about cats is
like punching a hole in
a giant bag tied around the world
This is exactly what happened to me in high school. Trapped in suburbia, desperate for anything that was new and exotic led me to Bukowski, Kerouac, Ginsberg and all the rest. It changed my life – it allowed me to escape the “giant bag” that surrounded me.
Unopened is a brief tome, but in its pages there lies a moment of recognition for most likely every reader willing to take the time to discover. Kudos to Doug Hoekstra for allowing me to recall the time the world changed.