Named for the ancient landform that preceded present-day California, Brenda Hillman's Cascadia creates from geological turbulence a fluid poetics of place. The book is Hillman's sixth collection and her most wide-ranging. The problem the book poses is nothing less than a phenomenology of transformation. In her previous work, Hillman's investigations of alchemy and of contemporary life have created their own distinct mythologies, and here she turns to the first of the four basic elements, earth, to demonstrate a visionary science with a combination of lightness, wit and force.
Embodied in syntax as unpredictable as the earth's movements, these poetic forms speak to and query the landforms as the line between faith and science blurs. Short lyrics inspired by the California missions, each with a retablo of punctuation, reflect on the solitude and history of the sign as it moves through the quotidian. Set among these lyrics, each of the three long poems in the book presents an aspect of Hillman's topography. By the end of this powerful work, a new state is visible: a Modernist poetics, subjected to immense internal pressures, above and beneath unsettled ground, has emerged in original shapes