Lyn Hejinian and Leslie Scalapino. Litmus, $20 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-1-933959-47-4
The intriguing second book in a series of collaborations by Hejinian and Scalapino (1944 – 2010), organized around each of the five senses (after 1999’s Sight), is more interested in the figurative powers of hearing than the sensory ones. In her preliminary remarks, Hejinian explains that their intention “was never to forever track sound, or things emitting sound, or human auditory sensing, or the impressions and ideas that sounds prompt.” The prose poems that follow evoke the idea of sound both in the scenes detailed and in the rhythms of the writing: “The good man losing his voice joins the indigo interlopers, barreling boylike into the field. Other boys follow, not as interlopers (though loping) but as a team rolling a soccer ball.” Elsewhere, they address the concept of hearing head-on, “Hearing is emotional in time,” and speculatively: “Could hearing be just that sound or it’s necessarily the response to it at the same time?” It is occasionally difficult to glean any sustained momentum or narrative, but that is to be expected based on the goals of Hejinian and Scalapino’s project. Readers who enjoy experimental, atmospheric texts will find plenty of rewards. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 05/03/2021
Release date: 03/01/2021
Genre: Poetry
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