A celebrated poet asks anguished questions about separation and loss.
From the depths of sorrow following the sudden death of her closest female mentor, Brenda Hillman asks anguished questions in this book of poems about separation, spiritual transcendence, and the difference between life and death. Both personal and philosophical, her work can be read as a spirit-guide for those mourning the loss of a loved one and as a series of fundamental ponderings on the inevitability of death and separation. At first refusing to let go, desperate to feel the presence of her friend, the poet seeks solace in a belief in the spirit world. But life, not death, becomes the issue when she begins to see physical existence as "an interruption" that preoccupies us with shapes and borders. "Shape makes life too small," she realizes. Comfort at last comes in the idea of "reverse seeing": that even if she cannot see forward into the spirit world, her friend can see "backward into this world" and be with her.
Death Tractates is the companion volume to a philosophical poetic work entitles Bright Existence, which Hillman was in the midst of writing when her friend died. Published by Wesleyan University Press in 1993, it shares many of the same Gnostic themes and sources.
BRENDA HILLMAN began writing poetry when she was a child in Tucson. She is the author of Coffee, 3 A.M. (1982), and two other books of poetry published by Wesleyan University Press, White Dress (1985) and Fortress (1989). Her work has won the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award for Poetry, the Poetry Society of America's Norma Farber First Book Prize, an NEA fellowship, the Silver Medal for Poetry from the Commonwealth Club, and the Jerome Shestack Prize for best poems published in American Poetry Review. She lives in Kensington, California, and teaches at St. Mary's College of California in Moraga. Brenda Hillman teaches writing at St. Mary's College in Moraga, CA. Her other books, all published by Wesleyan, include Cascadia (2001), Loose Sugar (1997), Bright Existence (1992), and Fortress (1989).
"Hillman takes poetry quite seriously both because she's a brilliant young mainline poet and because here, trying to cope with the death of a key friend, poetry is all she has."~Poetry Flash