NONFICTION

Tribunal

Omnidawn. Apr. 2019. 80p. ISBN 9781632430663. pap. $17.95. POETRY
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One of America's preeminent experimental poets, Hejinian (The Unfollowing) offers three serial poems written in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. The first, "A Human on Mars," projects a consciousness literally alienated from its earthly, social moorings by contemporary political events and left to re-create its own identity in a tumultuous, surreal accretion of image, sensation, and wordplay: "A stream of elements, of turbulence, of petulance, of elephants." The second, "Time of Tyranny," comprises 52 sonnet-length poems lamenting the erosion of civil society and the persistence of "the derelict pattern, a never vanishing world" of authoritarian violence and racism, its frequent evocations of majestic mountain ranges suggesting nature's omniscient dismay at human folly. The final sequence, "Ring Burial," an aphoristic assemblage of philosophical proposals and questions, takes a figurative walk around the ruins of failed human endeavor on a deanimated planet ("there isn't enough water; the climate/ reacts, contracts, redacts.").
VERDICT Propelled by activist alarm ("We live in toppled times under a feat of tyranny"), Hejinian employs a seamless blend of poetic craft, spontaneity, and oblique associations to build a wall of creative resistance against acquiescence and despair.

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