Angrily Standing Outside in the Wind

Brenda Hillman

—kept losing self control     but how could one lose the self after reading so much literary theory?The shorter "i" stood under the cork trees,     the taller "I" remained rather passive; the brendas were angry at the greed, angrythat the trees would die, had lost interest in the posturing of the privileged,    the gaps between can't & won't...   Stood outside the gate of permissible       sound & the wind came soughing through the doubt debris(soughing comes from swāgh—to resound...echo actually comes from this also—)  we thought of old Hegel acrossthe sea—the Weltgeist—& clouds went by like the bones of a Kleenex...        it's too late for countriesbut it's not too late for trees...  & the wind kept soughing  with its sound sash, wind with        its sound sash,    increasingbold wind with its sound sash,            increasing bold—

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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.

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.

"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'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

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