Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lyn Hejinian - Saga/Circus - Omnidawn

Every now and then a book comes along that just excites me so much I go crazy trying to find moments to keep reading it. Lyn Hejinian’s new book, Saga/Circus is such a book. In a similar way to John Ashbery’s Girls on the Run and Mary Jo Bang’s Louise in Love, “Lola,” the 80 or so page opening section presents a continuing enigma of vignettes of named characters. I just adore it.

Here’s a bit from the opening:

Even before I existed, says Lola, I was already at work on myself, I came prepared.
Along comes Lola.
Along comes Bill in boots apparently.
It’s much easier to be enthusiastic about what exists than about what doesn’t.
Air and screams, too, rubbles, flitting litter, shadows, and all the rest slowly in disequilibrium kept indefinitely before the senses of the payers by players yearning to share all their pleasure mercilessly, as if this were what they’d prepared for: that: to show their pleasure mercilessly.

And then another, from a couple pages in:

We are sentimental because we have a sense of time, Quindlan says, we have a sense of time because we can only take in so much of the world, we attend and withdraw, attend and withdraw, and that withdrawing is the tick we hear, the shutter clicking—time consists of our recurrent shutting and knowing that we shut, regretting what we miss and remembering in images—rank sentimentality!
Quindlan’s anxieties began early in childhood, he likes to compartmentalize.
So they say, Fred says.
Helen eats a wedge of cheese and squeals with delight.
It’s when I tell you what I’m thinking or describe to you something I’ve seen that I feel least understood, Helen says to Sam.


At 10/27/2008 4:26 AM, Blogger Marcus said...

Hejinian's poems have really stepped out of the journal pages these past couple of years...This book has been on my list...after reading your post, I'm moving it up a few slots. Thanks for the preview.

At 10/27/2008 5:58 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Marcus, It's my pleasure. I'm about hal way through right now, and still just really enjoying it!

It's a long book composed of two long poems, but the short sections keep it from feeling daunting, as long poems can sometimes feel. It really has a lot of energy.


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