In June the Labyrinth

In June the Labyrinth

by Cynthia Hogue


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In her stunning ninth collection of poetry, In June the Labyrinth , Cynthia Hogue tells a deeply personal lyric of love and loss through a mythic story. This book-length serial poem follows Elle, a dying woman, as she travels a trans-historical, trans-geographical terrain on a quest to investigate the labyrinth not only as myth and symbol, but something akin to the “labyrinth of the broken heart.” At the heart of Elle’s individual story is the earnest female pilgrim’s journey, full of disappointment but also hard-won wisdom and courage—inspired by Hogue’s own composited experience with loss, in particular the death of her mother. Rooted in the idea of the labyrinth as a symbol for life, as in the great Gothic cathedrals of Europe that Hogue would visit the summer of her mother’s death, these poems above all distill, fracture, recompose, and tell only partially—literally in parts but also in loving detail—the story of a life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781597090377
Publisher: Red Hen Press
Publication date: 04/18/2017
Pages: 76
Sales rank: 1,187,577
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Cynthia Hogue has published thirteen books, including eight collections of poetry, most recently Revenance , listed as one of the 2014 “Standout” books by the Academy of American Poets. In June the Labyrinth (Red Hen Press, 2017) is her ninth poetry collection. With Sylvain Gallais, Hogue co-translated Fortino Sámano ( The overflowing of the poem ), from the French of poet Virginie Lalucq and philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy (Omnidawn 2012), which won the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2013. Among Hogue’s other honors are an NEA Fellowship in poetry, the H.D. Fellowship at the Beinecke Library at Yale University, a MacDowell Colony residency, and the Witter Bynner Translation Fellowship at the Santa Fe Art Institute. Hogue served as the Distinguished Visiting Writer at Cornell University in the Spring of 2014. She was a 2015 NEA Fellow in Translation, and holds the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University. She lives in Phoenix.

Read an Excerpt

(“believing belief ”)

I was not thinking of her I was trying not to think of her.

I left a cold place and traveled to the warm it was raining

the hard rain down that fell into a rata-tat-tat on the wings

as I deplaned. I love the rain , I said, but it was not true.

Rain’s gloomy and I was glad. Elle was still alive and I

believed belief could heal her. I had a dream in which

someone died and when I woke I thought, Someone has died.

I hardly knew death was so sudden. Before Elle saw the

doctor, she had something and then she had something else.

After she saw the doctor it was diagnosed as something

worse. Elle oh Elle , I said when word reached me. And,

Oh no. Who doesn’t say something that isn’t anything?

(“Elle in hospice”)

Saturday we spoke of stopping hydration.

Elle asked us to just shoot me or make me

well. We were her agents of change,

we strangers from afar. Monday

the morphine drip. Or maybe Sunday.

The on-call hospice nurse had the worst

tobacco and whiskey voice and the voice

upset Elle who roused at last to say, No more

love. But the nurse in the middle of her

story continued so bent on telling the whole

she forgot the point of being there at all.

We heard her though we no longer listened,

having turned to Elle whose

breathing had begun to quicken.

Table of Contents


("a journey") 17

("a troth") 18

("the unwritten volume") 19

("L is for love") 20

("the labyrinth of honestly") 21

("safely") 22

("a mazing") 23

("my pilgrimage") 24

("believing belief") 25

("my particular") 26

("and to see") 27

("in time") 28


("dehors et dedans") 31

("to label something something") 32

("well being") 33

("the keep") 34

("the thinking veiling") 35

("high plains drifter") 36

("I could still call Elle") 37

("about face") 38

("Elle tells") 39

("a spire") 40

("to be-frend") 42

("to walk the labyrinth is amazing") 43


("peace, love") 47

("alone in love") 48

("like to a sphere") 49

("thinking of you') 50

("verge") 51

("the crux") 52

("symbolic") 53

("cunning ) 54

("Elle in hospice") 55

("the labyrinth's experience") 56

("still herself") 57

("the green way") 58


("the bitter") 63

("the boulder") 64

("the field") 65

("the rose") 66

("Elle muses") 67

("Elk's good") 68

("the wayfarer") 70

("curtains of darkness") 71

("Elle at sea") 72

("the lost labyrinth") 73

("the labyrinth of forgiveness") 74

("still her") 76

Notes 77

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“What is happening when a book following (in every sense) a mother’s death takes the form of a postmodernist stream of consciousness, giving full weight to space and silence, to the roots and routes of language, and to the predicament of the body? The poet’s mind, as it were, breaking and entering? Today I could say I read In June the Labyrinth, or I could say I let the poem carry me downstream. The ghost of Shelley waved from the bank of the river. The world was being shattered but I was safe, thanks to Cynthia Hogue’s well-made craft, in which I rode.” —Alicia Ostriker

“Hogue has a knack for intensity. And she ingeniously describes natural processes in apt human terms—for instance, “the concentration it takes / for water to become / ice.”. . . Hogue’s particular wit and intensity relay not merely the appearance of art, but the experience of it, ‘its complication of what is.’” —Craig Morgan Teicher, New York Times Sunday Book Review

“Reading Cynthia Hogue’s gorgeous new book is a little like being in a labyrinth: you know where you’re going, but the turns keep surprising you and taking you places you didn’t expect. This wonderful long poem—unbroken, again like a labyrinth—is heartbreaking, but the aesthetic richness and emotional depth make it a great gift.” —Martha Collins

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