Speculations on the First Active Sense

Lullaby: Speculations on the First Active Sense is an essay-poem with a soundtrack. The text uses the lullaby to investigate rhythm as innate instinct and drive. James Marks is the musician behind the CD that accompanies the text, which is a collage of found sounds interlaced with a more traditionally composed acoustic guitar instrumentation. The music is meant to give the reader a more engrossed and nuanced sense of the “event” of the text and of the lullaby itself as an all-encompassing, complex sensory experience.

Besides the technical deftness that Hume exhibits in the poem, I am also interested in the fact that this poem is not a fixed entity—it does not exist in a vacuum separate from life. Maybe because she weaves in the sense of lullaby with meta-cognitive thought and beautiful language, I was given permission to notice what my mind was noticing and be aware of it.…The connection of language to experience and the experience of language as chance within structure (both time and the page) is so immediate and intoxicating to me. Ryan Gallager

Christine Hume fills the handsome chapbook Lullaby: Speculations on the First Active Sense with a single long poem with themes of voice and rhythm steer the poem, lifting it beyond the biographical. We love its brilliance and music. Nancy White

Ugly Duckling Presse brought its distinctive design sense and high quality craftsmanship to Christine Hume’s Lullaby: Speculations on the First Active Sense, which features an accompanying CD by James Marks. This book shows us postmodern pluralism at its height—the prismatic way a fly sees the world; yet its world is sonically spectacular, worth following the buzz. Noah Eli Gordan

I love how Lullaby: Speculations on the first active sense creates an epistemology of rhythm. It is concerned with “lullaby” only so far as it is rhythm reinvented or re-clothed. Rhythmicity grants lullaby its capacity. “What a rhythm will become to stay in the world” (2). The lines themselves stage the experience of a body-in-rhythm – not just through language but also through the body of the poem. Monica Mody

Hume’s and Marks’ rhythms are remarkable for their ability to liberate even “what [they] would contradict,” and are likely to make good on their promise of remaining “Under your skin even when forgotten.”…. What I like best about Lullaby is its ultimate call to wakefulness; the way text and music point us back to a mutually shared, constant backdrop of things to hear. Dogs bark, water flows. The mind wanders, “builds a fort in your ear.” Chris Glomski

The use of different intonations and duality and contrast this creates, the layering and interlacing of the speaker’s voices, and the dynamically shifting rhythm of the reading all create a uniquely perturbing, disorientating, emotionally immersive, and even terrifying listening experience. Christine Hume’s reading of Lullaby gives new possibilities of depth and potency to poetry through the engagement of just one sense. Taylor Holdaway