cover image In a Few Minutes Before Later

In a Few Minutes Before Later

Brenda Hillman. Wesleyan Univ, $26 (200p) ISBN 978-0-8195-0015-1

Hillman (Extra Hidden Life, among the Days) wades provocatively into the strange times and stresses of contemporary human (and nonhuman) life. These poems turn their boundless attention on physical and interior landscapes to explore the relationship between experience and one’s capacity to reproduce thoughts and feelings in language. “(Dread can have/ a little fringe/ of whiteness but/ the predread has a roaming subcolor/ that can go toward joy plus a soft gray pleasure/ & the remaining context)” Hillman writes, interrogating the more subtle nuances and shades of stress. In the line, “mosses bunched , , , ,,, , , , ,,, , near the small oaks (did they fear stone?),” Hillman makes characteristically playful use of punctuation while speculating about the sentience of the natural world in a concrete manner. As in her previous collections, Hillman addresses her political activism, reflecting on the limits and powers of poetry in a world in which “capitalism will last longer than the bees.” Sprawling yet intimate, this generous collection showcases a singular poet at the height of her prowess. (Oct.)