Poetry News

The Book of a Thousand Eyes

By Harriet Staff

Photo by Alan Bernheimer

We have new books on the mind today for sure. Many thanks to Jacket2 and Charles Bernstein for drawing our attention to Lyn Hejinian's lastest book The Book of a Thousand Eyes. Hejinian describes the book in conversation with Rusty Morrison this way:

Written over the course of two decades, The Book of a Thousand Eyes was begun as an homage to Scheherazade, the heroine of The Arabian Nights who, through her nightly tale-telling, saved her culture and her own life by teaching a powerful and murderous ruler to abandon cruelty in favor of wisdom and benevolence. I see The Book of a Thousand Eyes as a compendium of “night works”—lullabies, bedtime stories, insomniac lyrics, nonsensical mumblings, fairy tales, attempts to understand at day’s end some of the day’s events, dream narratives, erotic or occasionally bawdy ditties, etc. The poems explore and play with languages of diverse stages of consciousness and realms of imagination. Though they may not be redemptive in effect, the diverse works that comprise The Book of a Thousand Eyes argue for the possibilities of a merry, pained, celebratory, mournful, stubborn commitment to life.

Hejinian goes on to say: "This is perhaps my most accessible book of poetry, and as such, even as it will be of interest to readers of experimental poetry, it may interest a more general readership."

And interested we are, indeed!

Originally Published: February 24th, 2012