..:: CONTENTS ::..

..:: POETRY ::..
Charles Bernstein
  The Bricklayer's Arms
kari edwards
  from: obedience
David Harrison Horton
  Articles of Favorable Treatment (February 1912)
Mark Kanak
  Ensemble 
  derating curves 
  support bearing 
  Juniper 
  paunsdorf, the six or the eight 
  weimar
Friedrich Kerksieck
  Fifteen ways of water: 
  aspirations
Yung Seoul Kim
  Midnight Jade 
  On Asian Pears
Sundin Richards
  A Rooster In The Garden
  Looting Mary-Celeste 
  Hillbilly Dictionary 
  The Ruination Of My Right Arm   
  Pluviculture
Jeremy James Thompson
  Febrifuge & Foxtrot 
  PEEPERS (lick the candy mirror) 
  Beloved: Refrain\ you are a reel of film 
  Schmaltz Routines 
  Wearing the antique guile hat 
  Moon Shine (V/T)arnish

..:: PROSE ::..
Adam Benforado
  Ornament
Martha Clarkson
  Pigment
Todd Scott Moffett
  Divine

..:: ART ::..
Wes Tilson
  Cycling Mandalas

..:: REVIEWS ::..
J. Mara Goldberg
  Lyn Hejinian, The Fatalist 
Chad Lietz
  Claudia Keelan, The Devotion Field 
J.D. Mitchell
   Stephen Ratcliffe, Portraits & Repetition

..:: ETC ::..
  Contributor's Notes
  Legals
 

..:: ARCHIVES ::..
  Volume I, Issue I
  Volume I, Issue II

 

Lyn Hejinian, The Fatalist 
(Richmond, CA: Omnidawn Publishing, 2003).

J. Mara Goldberg

   

    Throughout Lyn Hejinian's latest long poem, The Fatalist, language becomes the conduit for discovery of a presence--differentiated yet ever evolving--in a plurality of similar presences (similar, that is, in that they are different: "experience / doesn't reveal one's own reality but the reality of things / alien to one" (Fatalist 33)). Of little surprise, given that language is the medium (i.e., the message), but here are also the elastic filaments of process & theory. Certainly, Hejinian's pseudo-pedagogical-cum-philo(soph/log)ical text makes apparent its intent through pure linguistic permutation, play of association & definition, & even didactic revelation. 
    
"A central activity of poetic language is formalů.While failing in the attempt to match the world, we discover structure, distinction, the integrity and separateness of things" (Rejection 658). This formal centrism drives Hejinian to open her text to the dynamic elements of change on the level of language, permitting this "structure, distinction" to be permeated & formed by experience, by action. "That's what fate is: whatever's happened / --time regained" (Fatalist 83). Hejinian's process locates a subject in space & time, aiming its "amiable love-arrows" at the thing; then relies on the associational, on the referential, to render the poem open from there. 
    This central action of lobbing referential arrows at the subject underhand resembles those aphoristic instruments of approximation, "horseshoes & hand grenades," that affect their use broadly & without dead-on precision. In fact, the hand grenade allusion fits quite well here: an instrument that resembles a closed container, lands momently in a delineated time & space, that suddenly, violently abolishes its walls, blooming into an amorphous, volatile expanse that changes the landscape around it. 
    Indeed, the writing method itself acted as grenade, too; this lobbed into a critical mass of emails and correspondence that became the source material for The Fatalist. The explosion is a montage Hejinian reconstructs and explodes again and more-or-less creates an indistinguishable potpourri of reconstructed literary/email shrapnel that readers collect for the purpose of their own referential meaning-making. In this way, Hejinian continues countering what's become traditional to build a poem with which content becomes an extension of form. Or to play off a Brechtian quip, form is the grenade with which content is shaped. And yet shape and form suggests something with boundaries, something that is enclosed, is with closure. These may not be appropriate word choices, perhaps misleading given Hejinian's intent rejects closure, rejects insistence on a singular reality. 
    Instead, Hejinian revels in the kinesthetic of difference, of change (shaping). "Language itself is never in a state of rest" (Rejection 654). But this implied (& enacted) movement must not remain simply intent: "Poetry / can't be about flight--that would make flight a perching / instead of a flight" (Fatalist 33). For this reason, the process of The Fatalist becomes threadbare, clearly evident in the functions of the language; this evident process, however, can become quite heavy-handed & self-referential. A gray gravy drizzle of theory worn on the sleeve. Perhaps in this way, the poem never escapes being about reality, philology, &c, if only because it continually returns to these topics with a self-awareness that it is returning to the about of the book.

 

Works Cited

Hejinian, Lyn. "Rejection of Closure." Ed. Paul Hoover. Postmodern American Poetry. NY: W.W. Norton & Co, 1994. 653-658.

-- The Fatalist. Richmond, CA: Omnidawn Publishing, 2003.

  

//   Advance   //