Monday, July 28, 2008

Lyn Hejinian: Slowly

Slowly, Lyn Hejinian (Tuumba Press, 2002)


I’m always trying to catch up on my Hejinian-reading. Slowly is a short long poem, published by Hejinian’s own Tuumba Press (resurrected? – dunno, but I miss those wonderful letterpress chapbooks from the old days). As the title would indicate, it’s a poem about – or revolving around, or formally built upon – the adverb. I can’t help thinking of all those workshop strictures on adverbs – I’ve thrown them around myself – you know, “if you’re using an adverb that means you haven’t found the right verb,” “avoid adverbs, they drain energy from your language,” etc. So there’s some foundational cheekiness here I quite like. Of course, what LH’s really interested in, & what gets tracked thru all those adverbs (yes, “slowly” appears quite often) is the process of perception, how the world comes to us modified by our senses, by the various grids & seines of our consciousness that can be represented on one level by the shorthand of the adverb. Much of the book’s in a series of the sort of paratactic, present-tense declarative sentences that I associate with some of Barrett Watten’s & Ron Silliman’s work. So much so that it’s a kind of major event when Hejinian shifts into the past tense for a run of lines. A brow-furrowing read.


tyrone said...

Lyn'a text is a necessary reminder/adjunct to Dale Smith's call for "slo-po" over at his blog (possum ego). Thanks for resurrecting this text (and I like Graham's work too so I;m happy to see these short "reviews"...)


FightLikeAGirl said...

Hey! It's Elise from your undergrad classes. Sorry for emailing you on your blog but my school email account was closed. I am now in a grad program/MFA in fiction at Fairleigh Dickinson in NJ. I am up here right now at my residency. Amy Hempel had a reading here last week, Tom Kennedy (one of my professors) read "I Am Joe's Prostate" two nights ago and James Lansdun (poet and fiction writer) read tonight...great stuff! Hope all is well. If you can, email me at I would love to stay in touch! Hope all is well!

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