Brenda Hillman, Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire (Wesleyan University Press, 144pp, $22.95)
Reviewed by Elizabeth A. Logan
What might a seed utter while talking back to Monsanto?
What would the creative process of a squirrel writing a poem look and sound like?
Brenda Hillman’s Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire dances with seeds and squirrels and will inspire today’s “people moaning at gas pumps” and tomorrow’s ecopoets.
Hillman’s poems embrace the layered world of the everyday – of memories, violence, activism, and the encounters we share with other living species even including termites. She captures topics running through today’s news cycles such as drones, healthcare reform, and “Facelessbook.” But the work also reveals elements of the foundations of her present, be they onion soup flakes, Camus or brothers playing chess at Christmas.
If your reading style is to skip around like the hummingbirds that fill Hillman’s verses, consider reading first the dedication and then “Ecopoetics Minifesto: A Draft for Angie.” Within these two sections, Hillman provides a helpful framing of the work’s themes and concerns.
Seasonal Works is a treasure of letters on fire, miniature photographs, and scientific and non-English phrases. Hillman challenges us to more intensive observation and action. Pick up a copy and wander out into California’s noisy landscapes with Hillman as a guide.