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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  144 ratings  ·  9 reviews
Named for the ancient landform that preceded present-day California, Brenda Hillman's Cascadia creates from geological turbulence a fluid poetics of place. The book is Hillman's sixth collection and her most wide-ranging. The problem the book poses is nothing less than a phenomenology of transformation. In her previous work, Hillman's investigations of alchemy and of conte ...more
Paperback, 88 pages
Published October 22nd 2001 by Wesleyan
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In Brenda Hillman’s Cascadia, a twin(n)ing of selfscape and landscape occurs. Like the protean California coastline, Hillman rapidly shifts between images of landscape to bodyscape, often employing declarative paratactic constructions.

By constructing a textual relationship between geography and self she attempts to impose a container over the luxuriance of landscape, bordering her poems with mathematical symbols, various punctuation marks, and single words located at the four corners of the pag
Never has a sense of geologic time contained such intimacy. This thin book brought me back to poetry after a very long hiatus I blame on a creepy intro to poetry prof. Anyway, this was assigned reading for Susan McCabe's contemporary poetry class and the closer I read it the more I loved it.
Much like the studies of geology and history which form the foundation of her sixth collection of poetry, Brenda Hillman’s “Cascadia” (2001) often feels like a mystery waiting to be unpacked. In comparison to her first collection of poetry, “White Dress”, “Cascadia” leaves the reader with the impression that Hillman has spent the intervening decades digging deeper into her understanding of place, relationship, and what – in fact – is poetry.

The collection is built from the poet’s exploration of
Brilliant-as tidy as the geological processes that are at times front and center, sometimes below the surface of this place we call California. Hillman has a way of using language that represents the reality it depicts. Loved the gold rush series of about four poems midway. Also "Franciscan Complex," Shared Custody," and "Wood's Edge." Hillman brings in a sense of our becoming in the becoming of the land, as in the title poem "Cascadia," which could be a parable of California--its uniqueness, it ...more
I have given this the once through and am now wading back through it. I'm puzzled by Hillman's formal inventions and don't quite follow her through all her quirks, but I like the approach to subject matter, how her research on geology results not in polemic or metaphor but in actual physical presence--shelfs and faults as much in the poems as people or history. I also like the wide scope, and that Hillman doesn't seem to feel the need to close her circle, to line up and account for everything.
May 10, 2008 Christopher rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in current poetry.
Recommended to Christopher by: Nobody.
Shelves: poetry
4.4 of 5. Wesleyan University proves once again (to me, at least) that they are surely the finest publisher of fresh, new poetry. Hillman owes a lot to Ashberry and others, but.. really, what a fantastic read. A litle difficult, surely dificult for those that don't read much like this. Extremely playful, yet serious. Hillman obviously has an incredible understanding of form.

Stephen M
Upon a second reading, I found this gem that I overlooked.

"Monsters of will and monsters of
willessness confront the garden; a dragon

crow greets the dusk with its
prow. Rhyming is a tool of

friendly desperation. The spirits will return
though they're not here now."

Woah! "Rhyming is a tool of friendly desperation"! That line alone earns it another star.
Writing the California landscape onto the body, these poems move from self to other and beyond. One of my favorite collections by a contemporary poet.
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