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Extra Hidden Life, among the Days
Brenda Hillman

Wesleyan Poetry Series

2018 • 152 pp. 76 color illus. 6 x 9"

$24.95 Hardcover, 978-0-8195-7805-1

$19.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7842-6

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

“Neither simply empirical nor transcendental, Hillman’s poetry takes what she calls ‘woodmind’—a sort of deep attention to natural processes—and applies it to notions of human action, recollection, imagination, and craft.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Poetry of grief and sustenance from an award-winning poet

Brenda Hillman begins her new book in a place of mourning and listening that is deeply transformative. By turns plain and transcendent, these poems meditate on trees, bacteria, wasps, buildings, roots, and stars, ending with twinned elegies and poems of praise that open into spaces that are both magical and archetypal for human imagination: forests and seashores. As always, Hillman’s vision is entirely original, her forms inventive and playful. At times the language turns feral as the poet feels her way toward other consciousnesses, into planetary time. This is poetry as a discipline of love and service to the world, whose lines shepherd us through grief and into an ethics of active resistance. Hillman’s prior books include Practical Water and Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, which received the Griffin Prize for Poetry. Extra Hidden Life, Among the Days is a visionary and critically important work for our time. A free reader’s companion is available online at

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“Brenda Hillman reminds us how surprising and delightful a poet can be when her technical skills are evenly matched with her inventive ideas.”—Matt Sutherland, Foreword Reviews

“Hillman seeks a median between grieving and remembering, aching and savoring, letting go and holding on…”—Craig Morgan Teicher, San Diego Tribune

“Brenda Hillman’s taxonomic and fiercely independent Extra Hidden Life, among the Days is perhaps her most radical poetry collection yet. As with her previous books, Hillman aligns personal convictions about the environment, war, and human exploitation with an aesthetic of lyric experimentation.—Major Jackson, American Poet Magazine

In Extra Hidden Life, Among the Days, Hillman has paved the way for an ecological occult. What exists underneath Earth, and in the cracks, is not an underworld or an afterlife but extra life.—Elizabeth Metzger, Boston Review

“[H]er bold, experimental style…has influenced a generation of poets following in her wake.”—David Roderick, San Francisco Chronicle

“Hillman is the mind watching itself, the performance that draws its juju from multiple, simultaneous trajectories, and the outraged hothead calling out crimes against humanity and the environment.—Forrest Gander, New York Journal of Books

“Hillman’s poetry brings to mind the expansiveness of poets from Wordsworth to Whitman to A.R. Ammons...”—Mark Jarman, The Hudson Review

“…[T]o read [Brenda Hillman] is to enter a poetry that bristles and shifts with life. Her keen attention to the natural world and our place within it, coupled with her devotion to formal innovation and commitment to confronting injustice, are reasons Extra Hidden Life, among the Days is one of the collections I’m most looking forward to this year.” —Stephen Sparks, Literary Hub

Hillman’s strongest poems demonstrate how animals, plant life, and bacteria continually push back against society’s ills: corporations, banks, and nation-states. She is a profound poet with work that asks to be read more than once, absorbed bit by bit.—Andrea Syzdek, Harvard Review

“Hillman turns simple concepts into things far more revealing. The intimacy she conveys, the disappointment, the panic even, these are elements of magic I want to revisit.”—Camille T. Dungy, author of Trophic Cascade

“For Hillman there is an alternative model of sociality that stems from attending to the destructive and creative fire that simply burns through righteous ideas to concrete objects that elicit our caring. Sociality in [Hillman’s] poetry arises from her radical, eco-centric view. It is the result of being aware that what we love and what engages us in the world will be lost if we fail to find alternatives to what that world is becoming.”—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, Iowa Review

From the Book:

On a Day, In the World
                We had a grief
we didn’t understand while
                standing at the edge of
    some low scrub hills as if
humans were extra
    or already gone;—
what had been in us before?
                a life that asks for mostly
    wanting freedom to get things done
in order to feel less
                helpless about the end
    of things alone—;
when i think of time on earth,
    i feel the angle of gray minutes
                entering the medium days
    yet not “built-up”:: our
work together: groups, the willing
     burden of an old belief,
                & beyond them love, as of
     a great life going like fast
creatures peeling back marked
     seeds, gold-brown integuments
     the color time
   will be when we are gone—

BRENDA HILLMAN is an activist, writer, editor, 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.

Sun, 23 Sep 2018 14:44:28 -0500