Seasonal works with letters on fire

Brenda Hillman

Book - 2013

"Fire--its physical, symbolic, political, and spiritual forms--is the fourth and final subject in Brenda Hillman's masterful series on the elements. Her previous volumes--Cascadia, Pieces of Air in the Epic, Practical Water--have addressed earth, air, and water. Here, Hillman evokes fire as metaphor and as event to chart subtle changes of seasons during financial breakdown, environmental crisis, and street movements for social justice; she gathers factual data, earthly rhythms, chants to the dead, journal entries, and lyric fragments in the service of a radical animism. In the polyphony of Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, the poet fuses the visionary, the political, and the personal to summon music and fire at once, calling th...e reader to be alive to the senses and to re-imagine a common life." -- Publisher's description.

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 811.54/Hillman Checked In
Middletown, Connecticut : Wesleyan University Press [2013]
Main Author
Brenda Hillman (-)
Physical Description
108 pages ; 24 cm
  • I. On The Miracle Of Nameless Feeling
  • To Spirits of Fire
  • After Harvest
  • Some Kinds of Reading in Childhood
  • The Fuel of an Infinite Life
  • Grammar of This Life at Noon
  • Geminid Showers & Health Care Reform
  • Late Autumn Storms at Pigeon Point
  • At the Solstice, a Yellow Fragment
  • Early Sixties Christmas in the West
  • The Vowels Pass By in English
  • Something Has Been Reading the Fireroots
  • The Body Politic Loses Her Hair
  • In High Desert Under the Drones
  • Between Semesters, the Fragments Follow Us
  • We Saw the E Look Back
  • I Heard Flame-Folder Spring Bring Red
  • En Route to Bolinas, a Rose
  • In the Room of Glass Breasts
  • Equinox Ritual with Ravens & Pines
  • To Leon, Born before a Marathon
  • Fable of Work in the World
  • A Halting Probability, on a Train
  • In Summer, Everything Is Something's Twin
  • To Stem the Time We Spent
  • Facelessbook
  • Two Summer Aubades, After John Clare
  • The Practice of Talking to Plants
  • Ecopoetics Minifesto: A Draft for Angie
  • Foggy Animist Morning in the Vineyard
  • Previous Dawn in the Next Field
  • West Marin Night During Perseid Showers
  • For One Whose Love Has Gone
  • Patience Swoons in the Sword Ferns
  • Between the Fire & the Flood
  • Between the Souls & the Meteors
  • Moaning Action at the Gas Pump
  • Elegy for an Activist in Winter
  • Autumn Ritual with Hate Turned Sideways
  • Rituals with Food Before the Feast
  • After the Feast at Year's End
  • Report on Visiting the District Office
  • After a Death in Early Spring
  • Imperishable Longing to Be with Others
  • The Hour Until We See You
  • Till It Finishes What It Does
  • After a Very Long Difficult Day
  • A Spiral Tries to Feel Again
  • You Were in Sunlight Being Prepared
  • On the Miracle of Nameless Feeling
  • II. A Sense Of The Lively Unit
  • As the Roots Prepare for Literature
  • Summer Mountain Lightning & Some Music
  • The Elements Are Mixed in Childhood
  • At the Snow Line in Summer
  • Sky of Omens, Floor of Fragments
  • The Seeds Talk Back to Monsanto
  • Coda: Suggested Activism for Endangered Seeds
  • The Nets Between Solstice & Equinox
  • Very Far Back in This Life
  • To the Writing Students at Orientation
  • The Letters Learn to Breathe Twice
  • Local Warming & Early Autumn Butterflies
  • Halfway Through Civilization, Late to Another
  • Imitating a Squirrel at my Job
  • Experiments with Poetry Are Taken Outdoors
  • A Short Walk During Late Capitalism
  • A Quiet Afternoon at the Office
  • A Quiet Afternoon at the Office II
  • When the Occupations Have Just Begun
  • After The Orionids, Near the Plaza
  • From the Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
  • Short Anthem for the General Strike
  • Mists From People As They Pass
  • Types of Fire at the Strike
  • o--o--o o--o--o o--o--o o--o--o
  • A Brutal Encounter Recollected in Tranquility
  • & the Tents Went Back Up
  • 2 Journal Entries During Occupy SF
  • An Almanac of Coastal Winter Creatures
  • The Second Half of the Survey
  • Lyrid Meteor Showers During Your Dissertation
  • Poem of Hope, Almost at Equinox
  • Radical Lads, Blisters & Glad Summers
  • Mystical Lichen Falls Through the Fonts
  • Smart Galaxies Work with Our Mother
  • In the evening of the Search
  • Acknowledgments & Notes
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Hillman's fast-moving, energetic, and ample 10th collection blazes with indignation, gathers together motifs as for mass demonstration, and blazes among its topics. The last of four books based on the ancient elements (most recently, Practical Water), its one-page lyrics connect the origins of the Roman alphabet, children's reading habits, topical cries against our present-day wars, the evils of genetically modified seeds, the structure of Greek tragedy ("Tiny first with hurt earth spirits/ as in Aeschylus"), prose essays on poetry and protest, daily life on a West Coast campus, and larger-scale objections to the way that human beings have treated the earth. "We intend to make some changes," writes Hillman; "We hope to learn to breathe before we die." That hope infuses and fuels the many associative leaps and jagged lines that surround it: "Around each word you're reading/ there spins the unknowable flame." Twelve poems in bifurcated lines, each a tribute to her mother, or to a mother, conclude the volume on a trustworthy note: "some are torn as in modernism/ some are stained." Hillman's fierce works can feel uncontrolled, or hastily assembled, but they can also feel Romantic in the very best sense, like prophecies: "Out in the dark, the diamond planet orbits the companion star as art circles the unnamable." (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Hillman's ninth collection is also the fourth and final book in the poet's imaginative series on the elements after Cascadia (earth), Pieces of Air in the Epic (air), and Practical Water (water). The metaphor's finale, featuring fire, is visually intriguing, with a variety of poetic styles, fonts, and images, but ultimately disappointing. She takes on the difficult task of composing lines based on political themes, referencing drones and the Occupy movement. But concision and music are too often missing-"I'm grateful to Samuel Beckett & to my high school boyfriend whose drunk/ father yelled when we closed the door & read The Unnamable during the Tet/ offensive." Another distraction is the poet's tendency to be too self-referential-"As a heron stalks the smart frog,/ time stabs the mini-brenda"; "Big oil has bought everything but not my/ armpits, which are sweating in solidarity with the Commons before the/ 18th century Enclosure Acts." Hillman's poetic techniques-disjointed syntax, the breaking of words into syllables, startling images-create poems that are too often prosaic with images that are hard to envision. The poems that work best incorporate a sense of wordplay-"the vowel of an owl/ the owl of a vowel/ dives onto a warm body..."; it doesn't make sense but at least it delights. VERDICT Despite the importance of Hillman's subject matter-the fate of our country, the state of our world-too many poems miss the mark, resulting in an uninspiring collection. The reader's companion may be a good place to start with this collection: Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., Bloomington, IN (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.