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Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire
Brenda Hillman

Wesleyan Poetry Series

2013 • 128 pp. 12 illus. 6 x 9"

$15.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-7522-7
$24.95 Hardcover, 978-0-8195-7414-5

$11.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7415-2

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

Brenda Hillman’s latest poems blaze up like matches—they dance and flicker out by the bottom of the page … Hillman’s book reminds us that one of the functions of art... [continued in Reviews below]”—Dana Levin, Boston Review

The final volume in the poet’s extraordinary tetralogy on earth, air, water, and fire

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 the reader to be alive to the senses and to re-imagine a common life. This is major work by one of our most important writers. Check for the online reader’s companion at

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“Brenda Hillman’s latest poems blaze up like matches—they dance and flicker out by the bottom of the page … Hillman’s book reminds us that one of the functions of art is to disturb: to startle us out of the ossified, inflexible forms of the routine and conventional. In this, Hillman has a particularly American genius.”—Dana Levin, Boston Review

“[A]n activist poetics that holds at its heart the obligation to renew the language and the world.”—Jerry Harp, Kenyon Review

“Brenda Hillman possesses what many contemporary poets do not: both a political imagination and a poetic conscience. She does what Rosanna Warren says poets should do more often: she ‘wrestles with the polis’ … Hillman’s mystical imagination, her exacting intelligence, and her sensuous play with words on the page often leads to a Mallarmé-like magic. These poems are about vision; like the sinewy forms in Blake’s cosmology, the elasticity of her poems require space, image, sound—well, it’s a whole new universe. Bravely, Hillman will take you there.”—Amy Pence, Colorado Review

“In Seasonal Works, perhaps the friction between the ephemeral and the eternal are the two timbers that give way to spark.”
Erin Lyndal Martin, Rain Taxi online reviews

“Brenda Hillman is like her poems—surreptitiously wild, wordy and replete with surprising confessions.”Lou Fancher, Contra Costa Times

“I love this book so I want to explore the grounds of my pleasures.”Charles Altieri, Open Humanities Press

Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire … celebrates poetry as a mode of sheer delight in the kinds of being that are committed to finding pleasure and freedom and connection as elementary conditions of being in the world.”Charles Altieri, Open Humanities Press

“Hillman’s devotion to social justice—her unwavering belief in poetry’s capacity to address root causes of our political strife—ultimately purifies our fallen world in the languages of elemental fire.”Karen An-Hwei Lee, The Iowa Review

“Hillman has created a book both masterful and sprawling, straightforward at times and experimental at others … [It] warrants close attention, for being urgent political poetry and so much more.”—Janna Knittel, Pleiades

“I can think of no better recent poetry than Brenda Hillman’s in its reach and ambition and serious play that widens poetic horizons … [H]er latest book—visionary, political, and ecological—encompasses a dizzying number of layers as it warms, shines, threatens, and burns.”—Michael Morse, Tikkun

From the Book:

Around each word we’re hearing, there spins an original flame; the unborn wait in a circle of commas, upright robins wheel to Wheeler & termites with arms in their heads dig under the chairs— It is impossible to describe the world; that’s why you get sleepy listening to poetry. The writer skates but spring takes the gold (ooo don’t let her fall in sequins).

From the Book:


Winner of the Griffin Poetry Trust’s International Poetry Prize (2014)
Runner-up for the Northern California Book Reviewers Northern California Book Award (2014)
Long-listed for National Book Award (2014)

Author Photo

BRENDA HILLMAN is an activist, writer, and teacher. She has published nine collections of poetry, all from Wesleyan University Press, including Practical Water, for which she won the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Poetry. Hillman serves on the faculty of Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, California, as the Olivia Filippi Professor of Poetry.

Click here for author's website.

This project is supported in part by an award from
National Endowment for the Arts

Wed, 17 Oct 2018 11:43:34 -0500