cover image Oxota


Lyn Hejinian. Wesleyan Univ, $18.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8195-7876-1

The 12th collection from poet, essayist, and translator Hejinian (The Book of a Thousand Eyes) offers a “short Russian novel” modeled after Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. A nearly 4,000-line epic composed of 271 separate 14-line poems across eight books, Wesleyan’s reissue of Oxota (The Figures, 1991) includes Hejinian’s corrections, reinsertions, and revisions, providing a new opportunity for readers to experience what Marjorie Perloff called one of “the most ambitious long poems of the nineties” and “one of the very best.” The text itself reflects Hejinian’s stays and correspondence with poet Arkadii Dragomoshchenko in Leningrad at the end of the Cold War. Travel, recollected conversation, and scenes of domesticity punctuate a through line of nuclear anxiety: “My language is an X turning with the hands of two clocks on a face over the eye,” she writes. The result is a multifaceted portrait series in verse, one acutely aware of its historical moment, and the distinctions and connections between peoples “occupied with production, but these are our times of mute people.” Oxota shows us a poet whose person and politics waver between two worlds, one informing the other. (Mar.)