An elaborate collection of poems that culminate in a meditation on the possibility of a native and feminine language,
Loose Sugar is an alchemical manuscript disguised as a collection of poems, or vice versa. Either way, the primal materials of which this book is comprised — love, sex, adolescence, space-time, depression, post-colonialism, and sugar — are movingly and mysteriously transmuted: not into gold, but into a poet's philosopher's stone, in which language marries life.
Structurally virtuosic, elaborate without being ornate, Loose Sugar is spun into series within series: each of the five sections has a dual heading (such as "space / time" or "time / work") in which the terms are neither in collision nor collusion, but in conversation. It's elemental sweet talk, and is Brenda Hillman's most experimental work to date, culminating in a meditation on the possibility of a native — and feminine — language.
"Time in Brenda Hillman's poetry resembles loose sugar ground from the cane of Brazil, a vivid detail of her Brazilian childhood. It sifts through the 'deep noticing' of the poet as she matures in California. Memories (real or imagined) are gathered into highly 'scenic' poetics. I admire the way Hillman attaches a plumage (or energy) to her nude expressive details. I see Loose Sugar as part of the anatomy of the rare bird of 'autobiographical' experimentation."~Barbara Guest