Contributor Spotlight: Tim Hunt

“The Boy Enters the Record Store…,” “Blues and Country Had a Baby…,” and “Blind Willie Johnson’s ‘Dark is the Night’ ” by Tim Hunt appeared in Issue 12 and can be read here.

We’d love to hear more about “The Boy Enters the Record Store.”

This poem, “The Boy Enters the Record Store,” is an attempt to recall what it was like to shop in a record store in the later 1960s. Perhaps, as much or more, it’s an attempt to notice something of the gap between how we’ve remembered something and what the experience might actually have been. The “actually have been” is necessarily something of a fiction, the way archeology is a kind of fiction—a construction or projection from the bits of bone and pottery shards screened from the layers of silt. Things I do know: the shop was in Santa Rosa, California. I was 16. There were booths where you could spin the record, listening through headphones. I did buy the John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers album that featured Eric Clapton (late of the Yardbirds and not yet of Cream). Whether it was like going to mass with Michael O’Brien when I was in 2nd grade? Well, in the poem it seemed right to imagine it so.

What was the most difficult part of this piece?

To imagine the past, to hear it, and let its difference rub against the present requires setting aside how you think about the past (yet not quite erasing that awareness). To walk that tightrope means trying to feel the balance and remembering not to look down or think about the wire. Maybe above all one can’t remember that the net of what you now know is there pretending it will catch your fall.

Recommend a book for us, which was published within the last decade.

Rationality & The Literate Mind by Roy Harris (Routledge)

If you could have a drink with any living writer, who would it be?

Li-Young Lee: I’m fascinated by how writing complicates our relationship to speaking and with writing’s problematic relationship to speech. My own experience of these matters is shaped by my acculturation to alphabetic writing. Li-Young Lee’s experience with writing as a medium involves both alphabetic writing and ideogrammatic writing. It would be a rare privilege to hear him talk, if he would, about how these two different technologies of writing might relate to or inform or enrich his sense of voice—of speaking from the page.

What are you working on now? What’s next?

“The Boy Enters the Records Store” and the two poems with it in this issue of Sequestrum are from a book manuscript, Riding with Wolfman Jack, that’s making the rounds, along with a second completed book manuscript, The Language of Smoke. At the moment, I’m working on web presentations of some these pieces that blend the text of the poem, audio clips, and visuals, along with some prose interludes on the music of the 1950s and 1960s. Alas, it seems that fewer people know who Chuck Berry was than used to be the case. And Wolfman Jack? Even fewer. Ah well, culture is not only remembering, it’s also forgetting.

Our thanks to Tim for taking the time to answer a few questions and share her his. Read “The Boy Enters the Record Store…,” “Blues and Country Had a Baby…,” and “Blind Willie Johnson’s ‘Dark is the Night’ ” here:


Tim Hunt’s publications include the collections Fault Lines (The Backwaters Press) and The Tao of Twang and Poem’s Poems & Other Poems (both CW Books). He has also been awarded the Chester H. Jones National Poetry Prize and thrice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His scholarly publications include Kerouac’s Crooked Road: Development of a Fiction, The Textuality of Soulwork: Kerouac’s Quest for Spontaneous Prose, and The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers.