Book Review

Brenda Hillman has thrilled me in her ten earlier books, among them her quartet on the elements, a Lucretian-achievement that gives us earth, air, water, and fire as foreground for human conditions. Hillman’s 2018 Extra Hidden Light, Among the Days, studies lichen, moss, and otherwise unattended fungi, to focus upon the days of an in-between state of life and death. Now she has turned to the fleetingness of minutes and milliseconds. In a Few Minutes Before Later is ambitious, divided into five sections, with spliced in “[interruption stichomythia]” to engage in self-dialogue. This expansive text detects and forges vibrational fields in this unruly generation, addressing, as one poem articulates, our “unprecedented” times with Northern California fires, the human impact on climate change, the grief and losses of the pandemic, complicit racism, the limits of activism—as well as “making new,” yet again, a poetic texture that with its bold varying of typography and punctuation mostly unseen since E. E. Cummings, captures the “thinginess” of writing, refitted as a hymn to the unknown. Before writing there was song.  The age speaks in fragments, as the book enacts.

Temporality, a Hillman obsession, as the title implies, shows its plasticity and its relentlessness. In the book’s first poem, “Micro-minutes on Your Way to Work,” the smallest units occur in us, where “[y]ou bring your quilt / of questions in the car.” The poem begins, “Days are unusual,” accenting common commuter urgency. Hillman leans into strangeness with her owl (one that is an actual friend perched behind her home) sending “out 5 zeroes from the pines,” “0” being the beginning of numerals and end of negative numbers.  The breath or hoot of the owl links in the poem to an “aging” jellyfish, confessing, at the start, human limitation: we barely know ten percent of what the universe contains, let alone the communions within the natural world. Mystery compels presence to share thickness with absence. One of the dedications that front the volume goes to “pre-life spirts (even if they are metaphors) seeking science threads when they arrive.” As a neo-paganist, she herself converses with plants and flowers, informing “emerging, pre-emerging & post-emerging poets” that “all a writer needs are four true readers & one of them can be a tree.” At first seemingly over-abundant, the “(dedication)” is well-earned, a poem in itself, showing her mycorrhizal impulse to cast vast root filaments to other “hubs,” citing familiars and strangers that haunt ensuing pages: “workers & loved ones who deliver food & flowers” or “for medical staff & essential medical workers” including “Dr. Anthony Fauci.” Her list uncurls for those who suffer from “racist systems & those who protested,” and “for older women,” and to “the life beside & inside the humans, non-humans, plants & kingdoms thar are not plants or animals, including cyanobacteria & protozoa.” Cataloging these, it would be amiss to omit her calculation of “between 2,103,840 & 2,628,000 minutes that passed in the making of [her] book” (traversing the pandemic through 2022).  Breath matters: one of her dedicatees is “William Blake’s breath” along with all the lost breath, including her pianist aunt, who died during the pandemic. In another visual innovation, in the penultimate section on the pandemic, she draws tentative breath circles, barely legible but present, haunting, “done in a ritual on [her] iPad,” as her “Notes” tell us.  

In the helpful Counter-Desecration: A Glossary for Writing Within the Anthropoecne, Hillman defined “Crypto-animist activism” as:

the practice of communicating with or being aware of nonhuman objects, creatures, or presences during such direct actions of civil disobedience, strikes, occupations, demonstrations, or risking arrest. [It] considers beetles, finches, flies, moss, dirt, bacteria, foxes, lichen, reeds, or even houseplants within buildings that are having simultaneous existences, whether related to human agency or human intentionality.

Reading Hillman, we must change. The material world encrypted with myriad punctuation marks reveals that activism does not necessarily create visible social change, though it is part and parcel of a metaphysics of love. “Never” is not “forever,” so we must, “without delay,” speak our love, insists the last section of the book, that addresses the fires and her recommitment to healing eros.

Drawing upon botanical naming (the nuthatch and the golden-crowned sparrow, for instance), and scientific nomenclature gives ballast in this unheroic anti-epic (the book nearly two-hundred pages), an uneasy fragile “here” accompanies the pulsing, cyclical, and instructive natural world. Hillman lives in the layers. “Among Some Anapests at Civic Center,” echoing “among some talk of you and me” from Eliot’s “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” the stakes are beyond personal angst as animated “Anapests,” as protestors, two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed, a rising rhythm. There are no periods. Even the word stressed as I write reflects the poem’s sensibility. All the lines are double-spaced from each other, at least in the opening:

The fascists have entered the town

Sun like a late ripe peach

City says no masks

We go with the crows & the crowd
                                    A defensive line is made

The telomeres              all lined up

The turn to science for potent images, such as “telomeres,” those sequences of DNA at the end of chromosomes, which appear like shoelaces. They protect, their length indicating a person’s relative health (they get shorter with aging). These important biological structures parallel with “the fascists,” who, by implication, have shorter connectives. They split the poem. “Sun like a late ripe peach” [echoing “Do I dare to eat a peach?”], later “Sun like a late ripe peace,” is “tender.” “Our house was a little to calm / Our telomeres all lined up // Too old to jump over walls,” furthering a through line in the poem quilt of aging alongside a persistent showing up in the recurrent phrasing “We go with the crows & the crowd,” then “the crows & the qualm” with “we don’t think the hitting will work,” refrained as well. Poems, she indicates, are not the “protest.” There are numerous invocations to romanticism and modernist poetry throughout; here, she substitutes “dead” for “born” in W. B. Yeats’s “A terrible beauty is born,” in response to the Irish uprising and celebrating the casualties in “Easter, 1916.” “Beauty” can’t be sustained with “the State with tear gas thermoses.” See also “Wiping Tear Gas Off Young People,” where describing her tendering, Hillman criticizes the “tone” in “political poetry; it’s a mixture of drama & heroics.” Again, “the protests are temporary but it’s worse not to.” “If you’re old you can almost fall running over barriers to escape the gas,” she explains, though hearing her tone of “what a good person I am, the i did all i could tone”— she exposes her complicity.

Hillman writes from within the paradox of her extremely communitarian self with her “cryptic” one (along with other selves), turning to the invisible as radar, telepathy (feeling across), wavelengths. Courageous, she clearly stays with the trouble, Donna Haraway’s phrase for surviving in our desperate period of climate change. Staying with the trouble for Hillman is, for instance, her engagement in social protests, while feeling deeply hopeless, resistant to the moniker of “activist-poet” because she explains, “mostly i’m not active & feel passive dread, bringing pagan practices outside, talking to insects & plants during the minutes etc.” However, effort does count, facing “whiteness” and “privilege,” (“this whiteness I acknowledge mind,” she flips Prospero’s colorism, adding “shouldn’t rewrite        Shakespeare”), this in a poem disclosing her discovering a record (a photo of the document appends the poem) that her great-great-grandfather “signed up twice         for the Confederate army” (“On the Molecules of Certain Ancestors”). In her effort to share the bane of pesticides, Hillman writes: “i am the only white person in Kroger. i feel shame for having come here. White person from Berkeley telling N, a worker of color not in my neighborhood, what he shouldn’t have on his shelves because the bees are dying” (“Activism & Poetry”). “Shame,” I note, is not a feeling much expressed by poets. “Notes outside West Country Detention Center” again exposes helplessness: “some stand in useless protest / under windows where the immigrants are locked.” Yet she still senses “the collective body sends out magnetized / curved energy.” “The actions rule out rest, money for jobs or being dead,” she writes, and I hear a hint of John Lennon singing “money for rope” “money for dope” in his outcry song “Gimme Some Truth.” In any case, this poem seeks truth and finds “no sign of life from the jail.” She stands uneasy witness, in unity with “the families,” while ICE corruptly pays the sheriff for each prisoner, and “his exact words were ‘The protests have become expensive for the country.’” Hillman thinks Dante, whose terza rima, here enacted in off-rhyming tercets, would know where to send the sheriff, his “non-soul” on “spare/ ICE    far down in hell,” off-rhyming with “i will.” Double tercets spell common embroilment in this broken system, a moving target, for “by the time this poem is printed the immigrants / have been moved / to what knows where & families / don’t know where they’ve gone.” It is not so much “where” as a qualitative “what.” This activism or “passive dread” leads her to recognize “some dust among us from before / the sun was made, it fell in great slashes”( i.e. her “ /////”)—linking on to the conquest of “first peoples.”

This is a major book for our time, never turning away from erosion and the passage of time, the loss of ecosystems, and the aging of her own body. A “[collage essay]” places partial shots of the poet’s face next to marks akin to indices on trees, granite, stone—a punctuation indexing experience, our griefs and stresses, our laughter and smile lines. This montage follows “History of Punctuation on the Face” where Hillman brilliantly tackles agism, rejecting beauty for profit: “Try ageless skin revolution dot com,” while “An internet pop-up says between news / Botox could fix your punctuation.” She calls out, “What’s so bad about granite wrinkles / what’s so bad about punctuated women,” noting “Grief Botox may cause side effects.” She traces back to “the texts Monks / Placed marks in surviving manuscripts.” The right margin of this poem enjoys dots, tildes, upper arrows, slashes, commas, semicolons: all to be read in faces, in animate and inanimate things, and not as a decorative mechanism but more akin to orchestration, or scoring.  We all know what a slash means, or for that matter any of her marks; the elsewhere frequently used ampersand (after David St. John made it signature)—visible as joining, crossed fingers, the magic “S” or “8”—occurs less often but surprisingly in “Report on Another Encounter in Nature,” this time at a Safeway protest, with students, “surrounded by grassy hills,” when “the EPA began to unravel.” After an encounter with a man whose Volvo was “full of screaming dead animals from the Cretaceous, the poem softly insists: “There are books & beauty where we dwell. We will love each other in a dream,” accompanied by photos of the group wearing “gas masks purchased on the internet.” “Punctuation at the end of time” insists it is not the organizing of a logical sentence, but hieroglyphic markers, such as those butterfly feelers, where “ ” is “one on the distal side toward eternity, / one toward human life);; sometimes /the end of time is in the middle.” This biodiversity of punctuation is one of Hillman’s poetic contributions.

A major poem, “1967,” splices together Vietnam protests (“Some white men got beaten / for one inch of extra hair but black men had always been beaten. / Bombing continued”), dating her own coming of age in a tumultuous time of violence and idealism (sound familiar?), “I threw no rocks till 1969,” she writes, a poem whose most significant reference is her use of Aretha Franklin’s rearrangement of Otis Redding’s song “Respect,” originally with a man addressing a woman.  He had no backup singers; she had her two sisters, and the song became in 1967, while Vietnam was raging, an anthem for the feminist and civil rights movement that gained traction through songs like hers. Franklin also added the phrases “sock it to me,” which signaled for her, a kind of “high five,” yet within those words linger the abuse of women and people of color, which she reclaims.  (Nixon makes the “sock it to me” a derisive question on Laugh-In, during his run for election in 1968).  Franklin’s spelling out “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”—makes for a fond precursor for not only Hillman’s “rearrangements” of the language of male poets, but also punctuation and spelling. “Some songs get you through the day & that / was one.  Aretha traded irony for power,” Hillman writes. This poem, much more than a walk down memory lane, wants the younger generation to wake up to the historical lineage of the present for “Students barely / hear about the bombing of brown people now /or the double O of oil & opium / plus famine plus profit.” “MLK” in “1967” tags “the U.S.” as “the greatest purveyor of violence / in the world.”

Along with dismissing the singular perspective in “The Scattering of the Lyric I,” Hillman allows us to meet a cascade of “brendas,” the “medium” brenda, the realist brenda who notes “[a] large percent of insect species // Will go extinct by the end of the century” (“Activism & Poetry”), the sleepless brenda, the searching curious brenda, and “main Brenda” from other volumes. Her fragmented style opts for tentative conclusions. These poems are endearing and wrenching (“women working three jobs,” “racist prisons,”), also hailing also those “checking the phone       tiny electrons of joy, // messages from large specific you, small specific you, / large general you.” Subjective and communal time changed (is changing) during the pandemic (“mainly important to get through the day // with the minutes moving roundly”). This day-to-day focus breaks the illusion of linear time, allowing it to companion with “circular spirits,” in her unabashed embrace of the “soul”—it “can crouch / a long time while the heart / expands to reach its edges ”(“A Slightly Less Stressful Walk Uphill”). “Soul” persists, not “ego.”

Section “III. There Are Many Women to Cherish,” includes a poem dedicated to “the 19th Amendment Centennial,” speaking the zeitgeist of heightened anxieties about who gets excluded and vote counting: “some women vote with armed guards,” while “eyeless vans from Amazon outside / like hearses bearing the corpse of profit.” Hillman provides numeric clues as well as special orchestral punctuation: “Over 52,000,000 minutes. . . . . .since the 19th/ Amendment,,,,,, Over 26,000,000 women voted,” and in the next stanza we learn “there are 53 minutes in a micro=century:::,”offering a way to read the triple colons in the next section on the Pandemic, “We place extra dots as eyes for extra vision:::,” noting “two periods” in the amendment.

The through line of fourth-wave feminism attaches to many poems in the volume (through Aretha for one). I’d love to quote in full, “The Working Sister of the Muses,” with its incantatory anaphora-driven non–end stopped lines, I must content myself with her opening, “The muses were distracted so they called their sister in / She flew from the east to the west to the middle” and a bit later: “She never told them art is the same as not art because it is not / She never told them not to write the wildest thing in the dark,” reminiscent of Hillman’s own advice to poetry students to “add strangeness” to their poems. This nicely links up to her poems addressed to “Writers Who Are Having Trouble.” In the interest of space, I cite only one from this section, “Dear emerging, pre-emerging, & post-emerging poets,” echoing Rilke in his Letters to a Young Poet, a text that delineates a poet’s complete absorption, unshakeable calling as sacred. Brenda (as she informally signs off in this letter) takes the heat off, to a degree: “It is not a poet’s job to simplify the mystery of existence or its lexicon. Is the life of the soul ever easy?” She recommends “radical ancestor poets who have gone before,” (including Rilke) “a varied canon,” and instructs “work for the joy of the process,” and with distinct Hillman humor, advises: “Never look at your phone when walking downstairs.” She advises “the most difficult thing is to love. Actually, the most / difficult thing is to feel loved,” challenging Rilke who “didn’t live long enough to / stay inside the spell of someone else.” As much as Hillman cares for Rilke, he lived apart from his sculptor wife, Clara Westhoff (who outlived Rainer by nearly thirty years) and daughter when they all lived in Paris; he felt chased toward inner spaciousness, and solitude to hear his muses. Rilke reemerges in Hillman’s last section, but before then she invokes Blake and Ginsberg (other visionary poets) for their sunflower poems; hers is a delicate homage to a dying sunflower that she and a friend drive  to “scatter             lavish seeds / beneath the smoke,” driving “past fields of former sunflowers” as this one that “looked out from the Prius,” the poet whispering her predecessors’ words.  There is even a photo of a windblown dying sunflower looking out of the car’s window!

The penultimate section titled “Sickness & the World Soul” with its twenty-four poems, synced with the pandemic, provides the death count within various segments of time: the first poem like this ends with “3/18/20  214,010,” and under it  “4/15/20  2,056,216.”  The numbers show a rising death toll. Numbers, more universal than words, offer a reality function, and the triple colons enclosing the bracketed titles of this section are gateways “for extra vision,” we recall. In “:::[a ragged white moth passes by]:::,” plucks out a spooky choreography of “one elderly moth/ flying through” the ragged “spirit of history,” or “world soul”; it (as the poet her-selves)  witnesses familiar sights from 2020, flying “past papered windows of locked up cafes, the quartz in the desert/ & the fabled silicon mind meld, past the uninsured . . .” while “mosses on buildings looked like themselves,” belonging to “a certain commitment to survive . . .” The world sickness is in full swing, “[on & on / the little beasts visited”], reverberating with one of the section’s epigrams, from Revelation 1:19 “Write the thing which thou has seen,” providing Hillman a role as medium or seer, but only in a lowercase sense: “i, a poet on the island of a thought, with love nearby / lit a candle throughout spring,” receiving the moth visitation, meditating the dying and the dead, while also welcoming “the rat & bacteria & the sparrow’s gold corona.” “[little breath circles all across town],” without triple colons has her sketchy images (noted earlier) of breaths. What we all faced: “Unprecedented was our word.”  Tapping into other minds, Dr. L or Dr. M, or C., who “closed the shop & the books read to each other, as we have written.” Mostly, even the “i” gives way to lowercase “we” of felt community:

we could hear the great dead with fires far off,
we could hear the ones we love, the singing flame—

“[stayed busy inside     moments of not]” shows what quarantine allowed: “blue skies returned to Los Angeles, / Water recovered, the moon forevered. Roses stared in at us / as if yearning”; and “more people were cleaning their own houses.” Numbers gain “intensity,” could hardly be withstood, the death count accelerating into June, binding like alliteration does—“Beijing Berkeley Berlin / the apex of blossoms,” and the “breathing,” the faltering communitarian one, “until we nearly could not bear the immensity / but we had to”; the witness tallying of numbers was a “we” driven to “the edge of their suffering.”  This immensity, in “:::[the invisible is full for you]::,” takes in, must take on those little eyelets of colons, “many stopped breathing—last week// past comprehension . . .”  After all, this set of poems occurs in the hinterland of being and nonbeing, leading to “medium depression” while “we traveled between dimensions in spring” and “felt some souls pass by” in “[trance poem              with the gray stone].” Some vague assurance comes in seeing “a prank of orange poppies,” and in noting “bees had been coming back.”

One of the pleasures of this book is finding archaic or little-used words, in fact, endangered ones. In “& fog passed by   byssoid  wooly”—“byssoid” signifies “growth entirely composed of delicate, densely interwoven threads”; such weaving is mycorrhizal, kin to the quilts of “women’s art”—in other words, a single unfamiliar word opens expansive connectivity. “:::[lines on Easter           during the sickness]:::” addresses “white health”—its unasked privileges and her own gratitude to “whose / hands set // bags on the porch,” the priest and his husband, who hold “communion on Zoom.” This empathy, throbbing throughout, extends “[for the workers            suddenly less employed],” a catalogue of those previously (probably) unseen ones: “carousel man who helped boy off the zebra / nail salon woman who chose lavender” or “scraper of ponds,” “dirt worker propping up heads of poppies / volunteer too tired to be praised,” or “library cleaner with spray bottle / bike repairman reading instructions / seer of air through the spokes,” all in a catalogue akin to Whitman’s. The occupation of poets as well were in limbo, “suddenly less employed.” In “::[untitled]::” Hillman asks: “does the sky have to forgive cars // do monarchs forgive the spray // should day forgive another day.” Hard to answer, faced with “unknown dark energy,”  these poems resist conclusions, encouraged by Lyn Hejinian’s groundbreaking essay, “The Rejection of Closure.” She pits herself against mono-vocal completion in “:::[to the voice of the age]:::,” which “            is a fragment.”

During the lockdown, during the protests, hoping “racist centuries swept into oblivion,” she defers to the animate “stones & art stand by / powerless to stop all this suffering.” (:::[smooth black stone            has seen everything]:::). She is haunted by the shape of a “deska rock from the railroad / into Auschwitz” that “is shaped like a human ankle.”  A mirror acoustic to the pandemic slow down, exhaustion, and depression unfolds “the pall            caul      crawl                through summer” counterpointed with rough humor “the replica of the virus / looks like a Christmas ornament from Walmart” (“[untitled tableau]”).

In her fifth and last section, this titular one, “In A Few Minutes Before Later,” urges immediacy, to “speak / your love without delay,” that positions the poet as guide. Coping with fire evacuations heightens Hillman’s more confessional recognition of “eternal love,” and particularly, of her beloved. This relatively brief set of wrenching songs to the land, endangered species, others, and her beloved manifests the drive to connect with what is most urgent, to love and to heal, while enduring the stress of fires and notices to evacuate. Place must be found in joined hearts. The instructions to evacuate are listed as epigraph, among them, an urgent call to have the vehicle ready, facing the street, and “4. Keep vehicle keys in your pocket,” or another example, “8. Pre-load your vehicle with Go-Bags, keepsake items & small toys for your children.” You can’t take it with you inscribed in each evacuation reminder. Five of the twelve poems begin with “Escape and”—so urgency twins love.  The wildfires reached a high point in the pandemic year of 2020 and onward.  What makes this exploration so vibrant is Hillman’s attention to others in their response to evacuation, such as the woman of “The Themes in American Literature” (reduced to “the search”):

When the woman smells smoke she packs her college notes
in the trunk

Packs the children’s art
Funny ceramics with superannuated glazes
Packs the fossil collection from 60 million BCE
Broken camera someone          threw at her in DC
A clever rhyme between BCE and DC, showing the compaction of time and space; the poem continues, as it rounds out upon this woman who
“packs her letters from The Age of Paper.”
A parallel stanza to one above spreads out:
Packs   quilts made of overalls in 1923
Centuries of women all
                        Skin tones sewing & praying    under their breath

As with women gaining the vote, long time in coming, Hillman is obliged to preemptively correct—“please don’t ask  Did your mother work?).” Their repair of “the frayed thing” is ongoing.

“Escape and Energy” sets the scene: “the hills are burning; they have burned & will burn,” fanning out to gratitude for “young men tending the flames all night.” The poet confesses to bad eyesight, and to seeing “things/ that aren’t there—at least / on this side—,” yet names her “third eye” as “active, as now, an energy // leaks between worlds.”  With so much death in the air, the poet asserts her belief in other worlds; this is earned through the dark nights when “fire workers” have to decide “whose worlds to save.”  “The ground of being is changed,” grasping our “few minutes” until “later.”  This is a move reminiscent of H. D.’s sensibility in World War II, invoked in Trilogy,

Dare further,
stare with me
into the face of Death, and say
Love is stronger.

In what feels like global meltdown on a scale akin to World War, Hillman writes and stares into:

earth’s life
life’s earth, love’s life
stronger than danger—

Moreover, “if you loved a person well / it lasted         till the end of time,, /after which it continued—” she writes in “Punctuation at the end of time.” “When you meet / the one who loves you, it is extremely rare,” she insists with the question, “Do you love a living person / absolutely? Tell them now” in “During an enchantment in the life.” She reminds: “(remember i’ve told you heaven  is lateral” (“Escape & Speculation”)—imperative during our current crumbling century; it is the intense love of the earth, its things and beings, that stand as clues to lasting vibrations, and energies. “Escape & Exeunt” clarifies we are at the mercy of the planets, all that we can’t control: “Boxes loaded in our cars again then taken out // when fire again does not come for us.”  Other people at storage units have “carts they couldn’t steer,” a reminder of what survives storage itself.

The art of love is a kind of protestation. In “Escape & Song,” she even hopes “our ashes hold hands in the dust,” revised in the last three separated lines:

That our ashes might mingle in the dust . . .
in the garage, an orb weaver spider
lines its web with trash & shines like galaxies.

These last lines return to inevitable “dust,” yet the natural world survives, weaving in what is there, “trash” even, that offers glowing possibilities of a present-past-future kaleidoscope: in “Escape & Speculation” “sometimes decades go by in my poems.” The “later” in the book’s title elicits a fairy-tale feel of “later” that could be “never” or “forever,” if we don’t reside in the “few minutes” we have.  Throughout, as I have said, Hillman sends messages to former literary texts, in part to create continuity in a period of “the age” as “fragment,” throwing lines back, while revising them, remaking the literary canon, returning to Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach,” which she sampled in “Sediments of Santa Monica” (now a classic) in Cascadia (2001); but here, just using four words, she positions herself and her beloved as living with precarity, developing survival tactics as a practice of love:

Come to the window, i say:
                              (my love can’t hear & I can’t see
we trade senses throughout the day)

Further in “Escape & Logic,” she writes of Rilke: “some poets // take solitude too far,” and refers to his angelic presences, subject to climate change: “Western angels / drop their wings like termites in the heat,” yet she claims “a mystical consciousness /where we will meet,” though unsure of the “how.” Echoing Rilke, especially his inciting line: “Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels’ hierarchies?” She writes in “Escape & Speculation”: “When we cried out the angels were already / speaking in specks          to every living thing.”  She proposes: “Let’s meet under the owl.”  More extravagantly, she imagines herself dying first:

if he calls out, if the children
             call       i’ll be hitting my slippers
like tulip petals against the wall of heaven,,,

Hillman insists upon risking on love, not the Eternal of some Grand Poetic Epic; she plans to tell “the young poets” that “we don’t know anything.”  The sense of feeling near the edge of dying empires, Hillman assures in a refrain: “There will again be great cities.” We live in these poems through a necessarily post-Pollyanna or Downton Abbey perspective that insists we must face our wrinkled faces, our contribution to the chains of oppression, cheered on by achievements of love, and the regular arrival of the golden-crowned sparrow in the last poem. These are “our voices”—tempered through lowercase, distinctively punctuated, the natural, human, and otherworldly interdependent.

About the Reviewer

Susan McCabe is a Professor of English & Creative Writing at University of Southern California. She has published two books of criticism (one on Elizabeth Bishop, the other on modernism and film) and two books of poetry, Descartes' Nightmare, winning the Agha Shahid Ali Prize, as well as a duo biography (2021), H.D. & Bryher: An Untold Modernist Love Story.  She has published a number of articles, poems, and reviews, most recently in Los Angeles Review of Books, in a "ec0-relations" column published twice a year. She is at work on another book of poems, I Woke A Lake.