Little Hill

City Lights. Mar. 2020. 120p. ISBN 9780872868052. pap. $15.95. poetry;.
The title of this latest collection from award-winning poet Warren (Here Come the Warm Jets) derives from the city of El Cerrito (“little hill”), where she lives on a street that meets a small rise. Before the area was colonized, the Indigenous Ohlone tribe lived along a creek at the base of the hill, and Warren’s referencing this history suggests how the power of place pervades these seven long poems. Her many-layered pieces are composed of phrases and sentences that at first make little sense but are tentatively connected, their details mostly reflecting on objects that Warren sees in her neighborhood. They work by alliteration and enjambment and contain almost no punctuation. Generally non sequiturs, the lines nevertheless present food for thought, as when one reads the title poem and comes to the sentence that stands alone on the page: “I praise the sea.” The line and its placement cause the preceding and following pages (many of which reference the sea or water) to build to a metaphor for the poet’s admiration for the sea as a source of life.
VERDICT Ultimately, the creek running through El Cerrito is an extension of the sea and the life force it represents, as reflected in Warren’s poetry. For academic libraries and public libraries with strong poetry collections.
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