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Pieces of Air in the Epic
Brenda Hillman

Wesleyan Poetry Series

2005 • 104 pp. 6 x 9"

$15.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6788-8
$24.95 Hardcover, 978-0-8195-6787-1

“Were it not such a pun, one would be tempted to call this collection literally breathtaking; Hillman has pursued an ambitious program with remarkably fine-tuned language.”—Library Journal

Innovative lyric poetry breathes new life into 21st century nature and culture.

In her newest poems, Brenda Hillman continues her exploration of nature and culture in ways that demonstrate her original place in experimental lyric traditions. Pieces of Air in the Epic is the second book of a tetrology that takes the elements—earth, air, water, fire—as its subject. As Hillman’s previous collection, Cascadia, explores “earth,” the present collection considers “air”—the many meanings of the word and the life-giving medium we breathe—to test a reality that is both political and personal.

These formally inventive poems reexamine epic and lyric, braiding fact and dream, the social with the self. Hypnotic, spare verses use air on the page as a matrix for cultural healing; some are presided over by a feminine presence and address war in human history, while others are set in streets, parks and wilderness. There are meditations on auras, dust motes, and reading in libraries as acts of restorative memory. This work fuses animist consciousness with cautionary prophecy, and belongs to the mode of H.D. and Robert Duncan. Hillman's poetry continues to explore ways in which human life might be redeemed by imagination.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements:

“Reaching for prophetic powers without abandoning small-scale details, playing with page-based form while attending to the sound of each line, Hillman's seventh book...may be her best book yet.”—Publishers Weekly

From the Book:

We have replaced the garden with dew
the river lily has been folded without objection.
You felt safe because horizon lightning made H or Z or N.

Follow us into the struck minerals,
a swallow. In a meadow
different temperatures are asked to remain what we are
when you finally saw the lace-maker's dress, it was
precise and limitless.
—from “Eyes in Aspens”


Winner of the The Poetry Society of America's William Carlos Williams Award (2006)

Author Photo

BRENDA HILLMAN is the author of seven books of poetry, all published by Wesleyan. She teaches at St. Mary's College in Moraga, California.

Click here for author's website.