p a l e o s
by Hoag Holmgren
The p a l e o s project was inspired by the discovery in 2010 that a number of distinct glyphs, signs, and geometric symbols recur in Paleolithic rock art around the world. Ice Age Europeans used these forms over a period of 30,000 years, suggesting an intent to represent or transmit information — a possible early step on humanity’s long road to the development of writing.
In p a l e o s, Hoag Holmgren is a 21st century John Dee peering into the shew-stone of the archaic glyph. Here is a game of imagistic dictionary where the point is not to define or translate—even if such a thing were possible—but to illuminate the shared hem of being.
"Waking up, continuing to wake up, remembering, yes, we did once wake up. Hoag Holmgren’s p a l e o s bones up our origins, our original cave walls. It’s the calligraphy of space, the hand in all its history, sacred geometry, and the mouth’s mythy response. But p a l e o s does our digging forward. The back of the cave’s mouth glottals living landscapes; we are born again in the “open angle.” The cave art’s not merely a gesture; Holmgren’s exhuming deep time. Radical kennings meld the bodies—“crowberries,” “marmotpaw,” “winterhoney,” “mountainclad,”—while echoic structures of twinned forms draw the eye to the line. We remember ourselves through clubs and ladders, kidneys and feathers, metaforms of the universe, everything the eye expresses to the hand: “Of ash javelins/no need/for horizon watching/the eggshell starmap/finds the troves.” Holmgren’s p a l e o s startles us awake."
— Matthew Cooperman
"In these poems, Hoag Holmgren sends us back to memories etched into the rock and elements. These are incantations that invite us to commune with the primitive pastoral."
— Juan Morales
Hoag Holmgren's poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in Gettysburg Review, StoryQuarterly, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Mid-American Review, Quarter After Eight, Double Room, Drunken Boat, Buenos Aires Review, spacecraftproject, and other venues. He is author of No Better Place: A New Zen Primer (Middle Creek Publishing) and co-author of Meaningful Grading: A Guide for Faculty in the Arts (West Virginia University Press).