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About this poet

Lyn Hejinian was born in the San Francisco Bay Area on May 17, 1941. Poet, essayist, and translator, she is also the author and coauthor of several books of poetry, including The Book of a Thousand Eyes (Omnidawn Publishing, 2012), Saga/Circus (2008), The Fatalist (2003), My Life in the Nineties (Shark, 2003), and A Border Comedy (2001).

Other collections include The Beginner (2000), Happily (2000), Sight (with Leslie Scalapino, 1999), The Cold of Poetry (1994), The Cell (1992), My Life (1980), Writing Is an Aid to Memory (1978), and A Thought Is the Bride of What Thinking (1976). She is also the author of The Language of Inquiry (University of California Press, 2000), a collection of essays.

From 1976 to 1984, Hejinian was editor of Tuumba Press, and since 1981 she has been the co-editor of Poetics Journal. She is also the co-director of Atelos, a literary project commissioning and publishing cross-genre work by poets.

About Hejinian's book The Fatalist, the poet Juliana Spahr has written, "Hejinian's work often demonstrates how poetry is a way of thinking, a way of encountering and constructing the world, one endless utopian moment even as it is full of failures."

Her honors include a Writing Fellowship from the California Arts Council, a grant from the Poetry Fund, and a Translation Fellowship (for her Russian translations) from the National Endowment of the Arts. She received the 2000 Academy Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets for distinguished poetic achievement. In 2006 she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She lives in Berkeley, California.


Multimedia

Lyn Hejinian discusses poetry and place at the 2008 Poets Forum.   From the Image Archive

 

The Book of a Thousand Eyes [A dream, still clinging like light to the dark, rounding]

Lyn Hejinian, 1941
A dream, still clinging like light to the dark, rounding
The gap left by things which have already happened
Leaving nothing in their place, may have nothing to do
But that. Dreams are like ghosts achieving ghosts' perennial goal
Of revoking the sensation of repose. It's terrible
To think we write these things for them, to tell them
Of our life—that is, our whole life. Along comes a dream
Of a machine. Why? What is being sold there? How is the product
emitted?
It must have been sparked by a noise, the way the very word "spark"
emits a brief picture. Is it original? Inevitable?
We seem to sleep so as to draw the picture
Of events that have already happened so we can picture
Them. A dream for example of a procession to an execution site.
How many strangers could circle the space while speaking of nostalgia
And of wolves in the hills? We find them
Thinking of nothing instead—there's no one to impersonate, nothing
To foresee. It's logical that prophesies would be emitted
Through the gaps left by previous things, or by the dead
Refusing conversation and contemplating beauty instead.
But isn’t that the problem with beauty—that it's apt in retrospect
To seem preordained? The dawn birds are trilling
A new day—it has the psychical quality of "pastness"  and they are trailing
It. The day breaks in an imperfectly continuous course
Of life. Sleep is immediate and memory nothing.

From The Book of a Thousand Eyes by Lyn Hejinian, published by Omnidawn. Copyright © 2012 by Lyn Hejinian. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

From The Book of a Thousand Eyes by Lyn Hejinian, published by Omnidawn. Copyright © 2012 by Lyn Hejinian. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Lyn Hejinian

Lyn Hejinian

Lyn Hejinian was born in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1941.

by this poet

poem
To achieve reality (where objects thrive on people's passions), enormous effort
and continuous social interactions are required, and I can't get started
without you. Not here—over there's a better place to begin a funny story.
History with its dead all shot through with regularities in the woods
and following
poem

Useless lighthouse, and the bucket on the beach, the tattered begonias
Forget examples—there’s not an entity or detail around that isn’t more than a mere example
What’s truly funny?
Once upon a time there was a mouse, and there was a cactus and a pair of very small rubber
   boots with a hole in