NASHVILLE, TN – Unopened is author and musician Doug Hoekstra’s latest and third book. Divided into three selections, Unopened allows the works to cross-pollinate and the reader to choose his or her adventure—“On the Page (Centered and Close to Home)”, “Off the Canvas (Out into the World)”, and “Between the Notes (Everywhere It Seems).” The introduction sets the tone for this journey, but the reader sets the course.

Among its fifty-seven selections, readers will find poems that rhyme and poems that don’t, prose poems, sedokas, and yes, even an obligatory sonnet. Some are personal, some are societal. Some look inward, some look outward. Each invites the reader to connect and reflect to what’s inside and what’s going on around them.

Featured on the front and back covers are Hoekstra’s original artwork. They are taken from a series of collages created to reflect the content of the book. As he says in the afterword, the art and prose are both “a collection of fragments—memory, imagination, anticipation—broken, reassembled, and made whole.”

Taken as that entity, Unopened is a worthy addition to Hoekstra’s body of work, living somewhere between the “five-minute worlds” of his songwriting canon and the short and long fiction of his prose writing.

DOUG HOEKSTRA is a Chicago-bred, Nashville-based writer and musician, educated at DePaul University (B.A.) and Belmont University (M.Ed.). His first book, Bothering the Coffee Drinkers (Canopic Publishing, April 2016) was an Independent Publisher Award (IPPY) Bronze Medal Finalist for Best Short Fiction. Bothering garnered stellar print reviews and signature appearances at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville and WXPN World Café’s Summer Listening Series hosted by David Dye. Bothering also worked as a compliment to Hoekstra’s work as a singer-songwriter, as he included selections from the book in his live oeuvre during performances in the U.S. and Europe.



Doug Hoekstra | February 5, 2019 | Five-Minute Books
Paperback ISBN: 978198366471| Price: $14.99








In an interview, Doug Hoekstra can discuss:

  • His musical career and how it influenced the poetry and prose in Unopened
  • Where he draws inspiration to create so much original and unique content
  • How he sees the writing process differing from music
  • Why he chose to separate the book into the internal self, external world, and space inbetween
  • The journey he hopes readers will take while reading the book
  • Where his idea for the cover comes from


HoekstraAuthorPhotoAn Interview with Doug Hoekstra

The book is broken down into three parts: “On the Page,” “Off the Canvas,” and “Between the Notes.” Can you describe what each section means to you?
They are divided that way to allow the reader to experience the poems in their own reality. Part One is titled “On the Page,” because it holds together close to home, with tales of family, friends, and things that center the human soul. Once we are in that place, we move on to Part Two, “Off the Canvas,” branching out into the world, natural and manmade, weaving personal, political, and societal experiences. This takes us to Part Three “Between the Notes,” where we venture further yet, with tales of music, art, love, and sex, and those indefinable places where we take risks and see where they lead. Once we’ve done that we often return to the page. Or not. But it’s up to the reader and their journey.

Can you describe the artwork that you included on the front and back covers?
Art often reveals itself as a collection of fragments—memory, imagination, anticipation—broken, reassembled, and made whole. So, I thought the cover of this book should reflect that. There are two poems in the collection that are central to its whole—the title poem, “Unopened,” which centers on my father and an old LP I recovered, and “Thanksgiving Day,” which centers on my mother and some of her old glassware—candlewick. My concept was to take images representative of those poems, break them and put them back together, so they became, like the narratives, both real and imagined, both literal and abstract. I took photographs of the album cover, printed those in various sizes, slicing and splicing the pieces randomly on different colored backdrops, working through about a dozen iterations. Then I photographed two candlewick glasses and printed those images on transparency paper, in different sizes, smearing the ink as it came out of the printer, again about a dozen versions. Then I mixed and matched, laying the various transparencies over the collages, scanning and manipulating those layered combinations again. In the end, the source images were represented in full, but modified by experience, and as in life, memory, imagination, or poetry, certain images or themes rose to the forefront.

Can you elaborate on the title, Unopened? How does that represent the pieces included in the book?
It essentially connects to a key poem in the book and the artwork. But, in another sense, any piece of art (art, music, literature) invites the reader to unwrap it or unopen it at first experience. This is how we relate to people we meet for the first time, as well – that first connection is an unveiling.

How is your music career and experience writing music translated into the poetry and prose in Unopened?
I have no idea! Seriously, I have always written short stories, songs, essays, and poems, so to me, they are just different canvases. Sometimes I write about the same idea in different arenas, more often, it’s just the resources at hand. I took a break from music about 10 years ago, because my son was little and I wanted to be fully present, focus on him, and in a broader sense, redefine myself. In that sense, it was easier to write prose, because you don’t have to record, get musicians, play live – it can be just me and the laptop when I have time. I suppose, because of that, they are a little more indicative of the headspace required in that setting, and they probably allow me to play around with different word rhythms and things of that nature. Inspiration is everywhere around us, so that part doesn’t differ – it’s what you pull out of your experiences and ideas.

How does your writing process differ when writing poetry, short or long fiction, and music?
Writing is much more solitary. Collaboration can come later, through an editor or a writing group or if you do a reading. But, music is much more collaborative, because after you write the song you demo it, take it to musicians to record/rehearses, and even if you have it charted, they put themselves into it, to a fashion, an engineer or producer adds ideas, and then of course, the audience may shape what you do with it later. So, songs evolve more in that sense. In terms of short and long form, I like the tightness that poetry and songs require—if you’re doing it right you can say a lot in a little space. I think what’s not on the page or what’s in between the notes is very important, it allows the work to breathe and the audience to put themselves into it. Longer fiction should be tightly written as well and can do this, but I think it’s a bit more difficult to achieve that space in that form.

What is something you want readers to take away from the book?
Shared human experience. Art is a mirror, but ideally, it allows people to step through that mirror, as well.