Border Comedy, A
By Lyn Hejinian.
Lyn Hejinian's work increasingly explores poetry's relation to knowledge... But rather than abstract frameworks, one finds in A Border Comedy a serial poem in fifteen 'books,' coyotes, geese, didactic asides, horses, philosophical anecdotes, hawks, intercourse, wasps, Russian Formalist literary terms, goats, pigs, ravens and a great deal of urinating. It is through this particularity that Hejinian invents a poetic pedagogy at home with its forgiveness to itself, poised both to topple and attain intellectual authority, happily open to its lack of totalizing system... Situating her project more broadly within intellectual history, she writes: 'Digressing in a didactic tale will teach one to digress.' And digression, in all of its entertaining modes—the antecdote, the interpolated comment, the sudden shift of attention—is the displaced center of A Border Comedy... One of the interesting oddnesses of the book, one that forces us to catch our breath and occasionally to huff, is that quasi-transcendental or a priori insights (often linked to continental philosophy) find their way skillfully and unpredictably into what is otherwise a radically nominalistic, context-dependent intellectual setting. --Lytle Shaw, The Poetry Project Newsletter