Poetry News

Thanks to Brenda Hillman, Forrest Gander Falls in Love With American Poetry Again

By Harriet Staff
Brenda Hillman, Extra Hideen Life Among the Days, cover

Forrest Gander reviews Brenda Hillman's new book, Extra Hidden Life, among the Days (Welseyan, 2018), "an ars poetica and an ekphrastic haibun," for New York Journal of Books. "All the turbulent inventive performances that we’ve long come to identify with Hillman’s radical poetics, they are here," writes Gander. More:

There is a curiously recurring emphasis on color in this book (and also on “time” which, Brenda emphatically warns us, is running out). We find the word “color” or a reference to specific colors in titles like “In the Forest of Blue Aptitude” or “Forests of Grief and Color” where, in the latter, Hillman’s coloratura, her staggering, broken, melodic line, develops in subtle off and slant rhymes: unseen/green/upstream; drought/about/out; decay/say; would/wood.

And “color” pops up in more startling and inimitable sentence formulations of the sort that make vivid Hillman’s lyric gift, as here in “The Bride Tree Can’t Be Read”:

            the dream you wore, a suffering endurable

            only once, edges that sought release

            from envy to a more endurable loss,


            a form to be walked past, that has

            outworn the shame of time,

            its colors sprung through description

            above a blaze of rhizomes spreading

Just dazzling: how the world, the mind, and emotion are bound into that affecting, meditative, and poignant system of phrases. When I read lines as sharp as these are lexically, semantically, syntactically, and rhythmically, I fall in love with American poetry again.

Read the full review here.

Originally Published: May 11th, 2018