The Number 5 Is Always Suspect – Collaborative Poems

The Number 5 Is Always Suspect – Collaborative Poems

Bob Heman and Cindy Hochman

Chapbook, 36 pages, $8.00

These collaborative poems by Bob Heman and Cindy Hochman are the very best of what can happen in a true collaboration: poems (in this case 24 14-line sonnets) in which neither of the two voices dominates, but rather a new third voice arises, and is entirely compelling. Here is a surrealism in which any object, emotion, or action can be at the same time its opposite or something else entirely different. The unified new voice, in fact, speaks as a kind of contrast to the constant shifting of reference and vision in these poems’ delicious ambiguities. That balance is what makes these poems so compelling.  “Seeming,” “maybe,” “on second thought,” “sometimes,” “or” are some of the words that serve as hinges or connections between wings of ambiguity and uncertainty, creating, on each page, a complete world of beauty and resonance; “call it a poem,” or “a sea of unopened words.” A truly fascinating and beautiful book.                —John M. Bennett

“Do you see a goldfish swimming through this poem?” The Number 5 Is Always Suspect is a surrealist collaboration by two poets extraordinaire, Bob Heman and Cindy Hochman. If you’re holding this book, simply turn to Collaboration #5 (or any of the 24), and you’ll buy, at minimum, a copy for you and one for a friend. Brace yourself, serious wordplay is afoot. And, yes, each poem happens to be exactly (count them) 14 lines. Surrealist sonnets, collaboratively speaking.                  
                                   —Kit Kennedy, author of while eating oysters and Poet in Residence at SF Bay Times

Codes of the jigsaw artist are skillfully arranged on a surreal game board in these delightful poems cum sonnets. The two authors swapped lines in an intriguing chess match of words and were able to “rearrange all that surrounds them.” A formal and conceptual tension exists between whimsy and logic, beauty and meaning, lyricism and geometry, transparency and opacity, and the personal and the universal, lifting the poems into a rarified stratum. These mysterious constructs tease our sense as well as our senses with their “wise words.” Inventive and playful, both deep and light, humorous and reverential, this cohesive collection is one of the most successful collaborations published in the 21st century.            —Jeffrey Cyphers Wright