First Fire, Then Birds

First Fire, Then Birds

Obsessionals 1985-2010

by H. L. Hix

Published by: Etruscan Press

240 Pages, 7.00 x 9.50 in

  • Hardcover
  • 9780981968742
  • Published: October 2010


"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