Bibliography

German, Norman. Anthony Hecht. New York: Peter Lang, 1989.

Hirsch, Edward. "Comedy and Hardship." In The Burdens of Formality: Essays on the Poetry of Anthony Hecht, edited by Sydney Lea. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989, pp. 53-61.

Laurie McMillan

HEJINIAN, LYN (1941- ) Ly n Hejinian is associated with the language school, a community of writers partly established in the San Francisco Bay area in the mid-1970s interested in how language creates meaning. Her poetry challenges conventions of language and struggles with questions, such as "How can we know anything?" Hejinian's innovative use of language explores the processes of human thinking and is influenced by the work of the American avant-garde writer Gertrude stein.

Hejinian was born in San Francisco, California. She graduated from Harvard in 1963—the first year that women were given Harvard degrees. In 1968 she returned to the West Coast, where her first books of poetry were published in the 1970s. She has been the editor and publisher of Tuumbra Press and since 1981 the creator and coeditor (with Barrett watten) of Poetics Journal. Her translations of the Russian poet Arkadii Dragomoschenko (and his translations of Hejinan's poetry into Russian) have received critical praise. Among many honors, she has received an award for independent literature by the Soviet literary organization Poetics Function (1989) and a fellowship from the Academy of American Poets for distinguished poetic achievement at midcareer (2000).

Hejinian's work deliberately challenges the reader's expectations: Her prose looks like poetry, her poetry like prose. Her writing relies on quirky juxtapositions and repetition to mimic the path of the mind thinking, and her sentences require an associative, not logical, mode of thought. Prevalent themes in Hejinian's work involve finding strangeness within the familiar. For example, in The Cell (1987), Hejinian writes, "It is the writer's object / to supply the hollow green / and yellow life of the / human I," using unlikely pairings of nouns and adjectives to excite the human "I"/eye. She also explores the influences of writing on the subjective speaking "I" in an effort to describe the role of language in the construction of the self.

In My Life (1987), her best-known work, Hejinian reworks traditional forms of autobiography. The original prose poem, written when Hejinian was 37, was comprised of 37 sections, each containing 37 sentences. The more recent version, updated when Hejin-ian was 45, expands the poem to 45 sections of 45 sentences and reflects Hejinian's belief that writing, like the self, exists in a continual state of development. Oxota: A Short Russian Novel (1991) invokes the 14-line sonnet form and is based on Hejinan's own travels in Russia. Her experiments with odd juxtapositions and the visual layout of language on a white page can be seen in Writing Is an Aid to Memory (1978).

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