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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 [I love says the acrobat]

Lyn Hejinian, 1941
I love says the acrobat
To read rarely passing
Even torn scraps on the street without stopping
To see what they have 
To say I'm late
Or your car is 
Blocking my driveway
If you don't move it
NOW I'll call
And have it towed, Jim
I'm sorry, I didn't mean what I said, I just thought
I did, we don't have, I need to get
1 lb ground beef, aluminum foil, briquettes
And corn unless it's shriveled, call
Turn left
Under the olive trees where we used to weed
And read 
Or think to read
Since we must oversee our stories and not disparage those who tell those
          that begin
What a genius! I am 
In my mother's room
And end ringing out
Ring out and ring
The fuller reason in
The kitchen where Mom is tossing
The kids
Are crossing
And Dad is washing
Westward, using his ears in place of his hands
To raise the sails that move the canoe out
Into the lake filling a pit made by a glacier
That Time itself was riding so
Slowly they say
Sometimes at night the moon rose and attacked
The very stones that the juggler cast over the hills and caught
On a scrap
Of music in a minor
Key tenderly pressed and audible
Still
It sadly repeats badly repeats gladly
Repeats
Facts 
Falling like leaves
Lost from a book about deciduous trees
Whose black branches in winter cast grim shadows across the grand
          monument to history called Innocence
Or Ignorance
Perhaps—it's hard to say—the writing means nothing
Now to William T. Love and he means nothing
To me
But I admit and affirm that he had experiences and thought about them
Somehow holding his head
Around his ideas with his ears as pictures
Of the world held by the world
Marking its course
As something moving something 
To something which cannot be any more
Infinite than all the sands that fall
Through egg timers and hour glasses
Shaped like pears, imperfect pearls
Or globs of dew on the leaves of a weed
That Pythagoras remembered
As himself
Becoming a bug, then frog, then someone
Now who's Pythagoras
Not me
Say
The equestrian in the park, the general in the jeep, the plumber under the
          sink, the actor
In a longish play
From which the thrill of political activism rings out
Rapidly ripples
Rotating clockwise for this is history
And so are the stars at least
For the astronomer and asters
For the botanist are something humans have seen
And savored and sown
In spots destructively
Devoured by the darlingest of goats
On precipitous slopes
For hire held 
By shocking fencing 
And fantasy shepherds
So like absentee landlords we all but expect
A probable leak from the slight smell of gas
And the dirty glass of the jugs of the juggler

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
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
poem

 

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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