Winner of the The Poetry Society of America's William Carlos Williams Award (2006)In her newest poems, Brenda Hillman continues her exploration of nature and culture in ways that demonstrate her original place in experimental lyric traditions. Pieces of Air in the Epic is the second book of a tetrology that takes the elements--earth, air, water, fire--as its subject. As HiWinner of the The Poetry Society of America's William Carlos Williams Award (2006)In her newest poems, Brenda Hillman continues her exploration of nature and culture in ways that demonstrate her original place in experimental lyric traditions. Pieces of Air in the Epic is the second book of a tetrology that takes the elements--earth, air, water, fire--as its subject. As Hillman's previous collection, Cascadia, explores "earth," the present collection considers "air"--the many meanings of the word and the life-giving medium we breathe--to test a reality that is both political and personal.These formally inventive poems reexamine epic and lyric, braiding fact and dream, the social with the self. Hypnotic, spare verses use air on the page as a matrix for cultural healing; some are presided over by a feminine presence and address war in human history, while others are set in streets, parks and wilderness. There are meditations on auras, dust motes, and reading in libraries as acts of restorative memory. This work fuses animist consciousness with cautionary prophecy, and belongs to the mode of H.D. and Robert Duncan. Hillman's poetry continues to explore ways in which human life might be redeemed by imagination....
|Title||:||Pieces of Air in the Epic|
|Number of Pages||:||87 Pages|
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Pieces of Air in the Epic Reviews
Remember when Marie Howe made us buy this book (and a host of others) and then we never read any of them except for Tony Hoagland? Well, I finally read it. I can safely and sadly say that this is a book I should read again. Hillman: a little complicated. She necessitated a dictionary at my side.I doubt I'll read the whole thing again. But Hillman has this series of poems that takes place in a library and talks all about the air and the dust motes inside. I think it is just how I feel about libraries and their smell. Those poems I will definitely read again (and again). Word worth sharing from the book: hecatomb, a great public sacrifice of 100 oxen.
Something strange happened along the way of reading this book. I wasn't really into it, thinking that most of what she includes I would edit out, puzzled by the random elements, when I read a friend's work on a break and suddenly—voila! I could see into this. The random elements began to emerge as her subject--those pieces of air--and the forms began to feel playful rather than half-there. Hmm. I've never really been able to focus on Hillman before. . . must go test this on another book of hers.
A pleasant surprise to run back across "String Theory Sutra" after a few years (a unicorn, c'est moi); my favorite poem from this book turns out to have been inspired by a Gerhard Richter painting. Not even remotely surprised.
Interesting, even fascinating at parts, especially the "6 Components from Aristotle," an elegy for the Russian submarine Kursk, which wrecked in the Arctic. All died. The elegy feels like a contemporary "The Wreck of the Deutschland" (Hopkins - also an incredible poem).The opening line of the elegy is "End of the Cold War, some air had been forgotten and was safe." But there were many times when I was less moved by the poems because, as they pushed language-images together I got lost in the shuffle and the poems started to feel brittle. I couldn't quite reach the feeling. Some worked. More were brittle. I preferred "Bright Existence," in which the lyric is a LOT more (some would say too, and almost romantically) traditional.
A really weird reading experience (I wonder if anybody else feels the same about this)-- The first half of the book didn't really do it for me... ho-hum poems (for Hillman), clever but just did not engage me. Then, from about halfway through on, starting at "The "Corporate Number Rescue Album," it's like a totally different, way better book! The poems in the whole second half seem to have a drive the first half doesn't, like there's more at stake (especially in "Nine Untitled Epyllions"--such a great poem!)
It's part of a tetralogy that also includes earth, water, and fire. It's weird and confusing. There's a series of library-inspired pieces. The collection contains some interesting lines, but no whole poem grabbed me. Outside our cafe: unicyclists with knives, & translators- "Study of Air in Triangles"white as the gravity behind her eye, blue as the horizon unbuttoned so the next world can get through- "String Theory Sutra"
this book is your mom's junk drawer,filled with fascinating objects and practical advice, yet it is sometimes difficult to find anything within its jumbled contents. Each line is self-contained and beautiful. Meant to be read aloud.
and this one is almost next.
Pieces of Air in the Epic (Wesleyan Poetry) by Brenda Hillman (2005)