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Brenda Hillman

Wesleyan Poetry Series

2001 • 88 pp. 6 x 9"

$15.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6492-4

"Spins a luminescent web of vivid, disjunctive lines . . . Her big, ambitious project, and her breathtaking single phrases, will certainly impress some readers, but Hillman's best poems owe the least to her overarching cascade." —Publishers Weekly

These poems use the geography of California as metaphor for exploring fundamental pressures and issues of everyday life.

Named for the ancient landform that preceded present-day California, Brenda Hillman's Cascadia creates from geological turbulence a fluid poetics of place. The book is Hillman's sixth collection and her most wide-ranging. The problem the book poses is nothing less than a phenomenology of transformation. In her previous work, Hillman's investigations of alchemy and of contemporary life have created their own distinct mythologies, and here she turns to the first of the four basic elements, earth, to demonstrate a visionary science with a combination of lightness, wit and force.

Embodied in syntax as unpredictable as the earth's movements, these poetic forms speak to and query the landforms as the line between faith and science blurs. Short lyrics inspired by the California missions, each with a retablo of punctuation, reflect on the solitude and history of the sign as it moves through the quotidian. Set among these lyrics, each of the three long poems in the book presents an aspect of Hillman's topography. By the end of this powerful work, a new state is visible: a Modernist poetics, subjected to immense internal pressures, above and beneath unsettled ground, has emerged in original shapes

Reviews / Endorsements

“I recommend this book to all who doubt poetry's capacity to reinvent itself. Hillman is making language dance for her.”Los Angeles Times Book Review

From the Book:

The rocks under California are reigning in their little world.

This was set down in strata so you could know
What it felt like to have been earth.


Association of American University Presses Book, Jacket and Journal Show Award for Cover Design (2002) Commendation
Short-Listed for the Bay Area Book Reviewers Association (BABRA) Award for Poetry (2002)

Author Photo

Brenda Hillman has received many awards, including a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award for Poetry. She lives in Kensington, California, and teaches at St. Mary's College in Moraga, CA. Her other books, all published by Wesleyan, include Loose Sugar (1997), Death Tractates (1992), Bright Existence (1992), and Fortress (1989).

Click here for author's website.

Fri, 9 Nov 2018 09:28:26 -0500