cover image The Cold of Poetry

The Cold of Poetry

Lyn Hejinian. Sun and Moon Press, $12.95 (204pp) ISBN 978-1-55713-063-1

Hejinian's (The Cell) poems are philosophical reveries, matter-of-fact in their occasions and wryly meditative in tone. Reading her, we watch thoughts in formation as she rummages around in her mind to see what odds and ends she can turn up. Of course, the mind being what it is, the very intention of rummaging changes what is found there. The process for a reader is a bit like going up the down escalator: you never seem to get anywhere, but you do keep going. Though comprised of 10 longish poems written over the last 20 years, the book is very much a whole, one that reflects Hejinian's characteristic interest in the consistency and inconsistency of memory and self, and the role that writing plays in preserving and transforming these. Her formal ingenuity also comes clear. In ``Gesualdo'' she rewrites a standard musical biography of that composer to provide a portrait of him as Hejinian, and of her as him. ``The Composition of the Cell'' turns the propositional form of Wittgenstein's Tractatus into a lyric medium. Hejinian is certainly an intellectual and self-conscious poet, but her work is also appealingly alert to daily life in these penetrating, instructive and thoroughly enjoyable poems. (Oct.)