An Introduction to Gabriel Houck by Seth Brady Tucker

If poetry is the reinvention of language and form, then Gabriel Houck’s prose is the reinvention of the crisis of spirit a wholly fresh address of the speaker. In “You Play a Game,” we experience the world with the immediacy and urgency of the second person address, yet we are also made to consider “what is intolerable” as we experience first-hand the speaker’s sins and actions and failures of character. Houck brings us so close we nearly sneeze from the dust of a dog’s ashes sitting on a bookshelf, and we feel in our inner ears the dizzying tip of the canoe that nearly kills that dog. There are other psychological levels that are unique to his prose as well: the refrain he deploys in the first lines comes to us in new shapes as we go, and the statement “It is intolerable,” seems of a poem I recognize yet don’t recognize; a call from a long-lost concept I’ve left buried too long. I hear in Houck’s work the same mournful “intolerable hunger” we learned from Muriel Rukeyser, but he sends us into our subconscious in a manner that feels newly sinister and mournful and true. This voice will stay with you.