First Fire, Then Birds: Obsessionals 1985-2010

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9780981968742: First Fire, Then Birds: Obsessionals 1985-2010
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"H. L. Hix is that rare poet who is equal parts historian, journalist, archivist, and singer." Susan M. Schultz

"Nobody now at work in American verse combines [H. L. Hix's] attraction to programmatic Big Projects (narrative, philosophical, or procedure driven) with his supple interest in older tones and forms."
Stephen Burt, The Believer

First in The Huffington Post list of The 17 Most Important Poetry Books of Fall 2010.”
[H.L Hix is] one of our most daring poets, his oeuvre a rebuke to timidity, apathy, and retreat in any of its manifestations.” Anis Shivani


From "Orders of Magnitude":

Songs surround us, but we hardly hear them.
Jostling girls laugh in rapid Japanese.
The neighbor's sprinkler fortes for the part
of its arc that frets the climbing rose. Crows
bicker. One woman solicits her scales,
a cappella. Another sobs. Windchimes
domino the direction of each gust.
A broom rasps across warped, weathered porch boards.
I did it, Mama, a child says. Songs fall
on us as feathers fall on a river.

H. L. Hix's poetry collections have not been merely collections. Each creates a whole greater than the sum of its parts: each poem contributes to a sequence, each sequence talks to another. For readers already acquainted with Hix's ambitions, the subtitle "Obsessionals" (instead of "Selected Poems") will need no explanation: from collections that don't just collect, what sense would it make for a selection just to select?

Hix's poems were already at work rewriting and recontextualizing language from various sources: fragments of Pythagoras, apocryphal gospels, and speeches of George W. Bush. In First Fire, Then Birds, Hix keeps at the task, recontextualizing his own poems, creating a revision (seeing anew) and recomposition (putting together afresh) of a distinctive body of work. Readers already aware of this essential writer's work will find here its fullest development; others will be welcomed into the

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About the Author:

H. L. Hix: H. L. Hix teaches at the University of Wyoming.

From Publishers Weekly:

Starred Review. Sometimes achingly beautiful in their accumulated details, sometimes grisly and violent, and sometimes tersely intellectual, Hix's collections have always been hard to forget: since his debut with the sonnets of Perfect Hell (1996), his books have differed greatly one from another, each with its signature long poem or sequence--100 snapshotlike poems about love and sex ("Orders of Magnitude"), enticingly baffling fragments of dialect verse ("Eighteen Maniacs"), a set of repetitive prose preludes and verse fugues ("The Well-Tempered Clavier"), even a truly gripping narrative (called, grimly, "A Manual of Happiness"), based loosely on the Book of Job, about a father repeatedly struck by lightning and his children's violent deaths. Formalists cherish Hix's frequent meter and rhyme; devotees of experiment enjoy the bizarre disjunctions and the philosophical demands. This retrospective shuffles individual poems and sequences from his first seven books to good effect, out of chronological order (along with aphorisms from a book of prose). Hix may make new readers' heads spin with his changes of focus, but he also gives them the chance to see his work whole. (Nov.)
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