Joe Hall lives in the border city of Buffalo, NY. He has performed in 41 cities, 25 states, Washington, DC, and Canada and is a founding member of Hostile Books, a small press committed to radical materiality. His other books include Pigafetta Is My Wife and The Devotional Poems, both also published by Black Ocean.
"The grotesque ailing body of the world is passed out on top of us. The violence, the body horror, all the mothers—all the gods: expectations packed in ice. We have been issued this fetal splendor, this official document, this employee instruction manual on the first day of wanting to be good, wanting to to be worthy of the attention we get. There is very little to say about the space between bornness and deadness except that it is filled with a light mechanical hum. Memories are coldcuts. We are feeling raw.
Joe is the most romantic poet I know because he writes about the end of the world and we are all still alive. We are alive because we are being held responsible for the end of the world. We are working in a shitty chemical factory called The End of the World™. It is a bleak place made of total potential."
There is something seductively destructive about these poems; with their hell-for-leather pacing, variable line-lengths, and on-again-off-again punctuation, they simultaneously chew up words like clouds of horseflies while also positing language as a dark, feral sludge as impenetrable as it is parasitic … and while there's little stillness to be found in the pages of The Devotional Poems, the work in toto is of such force and authority it compels the most important sort of stillness in the would-be believer: Awe.
—The Huffington Post
The world is constantly being ripped limb from limb in these poems, teeming as we are with beasts and bees and phantoms and hermaphrodites and dudes. Devoted, yes, to terror, but true too to the gorgeous black underbelly of how we’re all at once somehow together possessed. Joe Hall breeds electricity to breathe by again and again. He eats and regurgitates an unblinking, brilliant, sacred eye.
Hall’s devotions uncover ‘in the derelict warehouse’s silence’ a worldly utopia grown fat on the carcasses of lifeless heavens: ‘This is where I stick my head in the liquid / fire of the sun and piss myself while / burning vistas multiply.’
—J. Michael Martinez
Almost impossibly grand in scope Pigafetta Is My Wife is a rare achievement and quite a debut. Hall’s poetry crosses contemporary love and ancient epic, folding inward and out by motion derivative of the sestina and pantoum, so that whether via image or address, beautiful shards fall: ‘A chrysanthemum blossom sails across a bowl of milk.’ Emotion accretes in accordance with ambition. A treatise on the action of discovery, this is a book to be taken in whole.