Black Hollyhock, First Light
6 x 8 inches
Judyth Hill is a stand-up barda funny performance
poet and a passionate advocate of The Tradition and The Muse. Deep Ecology
elder Dolores LaChapelle has described her as a poet who puts
place and sex and love together in a way that is totally environmentally
aware and totally human. She has been called energy with
skin and a rabbi of the miraculous. Her work is exuberant
in its sustained electricity between self and world, its rhapsody with
the other-than-human, and the singing in and of itself with juicy mouthfeel
of alert and crafted language. This new collection, Black Hollyhock,
First Light, contains poems which reflect the abundance and hospitality
in lifefull of itch, of heat, the flavor of apricots, yearning
fox howls, a shrine filled with acorns, good coffee, the scent of the
imaginary wafting off the sensuous curves of real bread, and thick cumulous
clouds drifting over the front range at the end of the valley. There
is both the fact of wind and a sense of inquiry into how hair feels
as it blows. Instead of metaphor, we find ourselves in the realm of
the betweenthat place of lush relationship.
When, like an impenetrable crowd at a coronation,
the Divine surrounds the smallest, ordinary evidence of its own magnificence,
Judyth Hill lifts us with a laugh up onto the tearful diligent shoulders
of her poems to catch a glimpse.
On her knees in June, in the garden, or
braced against the hollow of a winter night, Judyth Hill is a child
of the landscape. Black Hollyhock, First Light awakens and enchants
us line by line into that place where we are once again at home in the
Ive admired Judyth Hills poems
for many years. The poems in this book are delicate and have the sense
of poetry inhaled from day to day.
Sit for a moment. Listen to a bard, a rabbi
of the lyric valuables, a woman in tune with the cliffs harmonium,
the pines taut strings. Black Hollyhock, First Light takes us
down into the Dionysian earth, unveils its gifts bulbs
and rhizomes and brings us back in brilliance.
Judyth Hill writes from her studio at RockMirth,
a hundred acre art farm near Las Vegas, New Mexico. She
has published six previous books of poetry, founded the Chocolate Maven
in Santa Fe, was director of TumbleWords, former coordinator of literary
projects for New Mexico Arts, longtime ringleader of Talking Gourds,
she has a cookbook The Dharma of Baking forthcoming from Celestial
Arts, and currently leads workshops around the country.
BLACK HOLLYHOCK, FIRST LIGHT / Judyth
Review by Laura Stamps
Arent we blessed
to walk this earth as poets? Occasionally, a book comes along to remind
us of this gift. Black Hollyhock, First Light by Judyth Hill
is not only a beautifully produced book but also a magnificent collection
of poetry. La Alameda Press prides itself on producing artistically
attractive books, and the gorgeous painting of a black hollyhock by
Joseph Biggert featured on the cover is a shining testimony to this
unique philosophy of poetry book publishing.
Judyth Hill is a poet from New Mexico, popular across the Colorado Plateau
for her powerhouse readings. This is her seventh book of poetry, which
is a collection of poems written from her studio at Rockmirth, a canyon
homestead situated on 100 acres of sculptural gardens and natural habitat
that she shares with sculptor John Townley.
In "A Matter of Individual Drops" she writes, Its
a matter of attention. / A poets job is to stay not busy. / Thats
the work, thats how you know what the weather is. Yes, this
is an enchanting collection about gardening, birds, and the joy of being
a poet, laced with a strong dose of Hills exceptional sense of
humor. The poem "Garden Party" is a good example: Planted
peas. // Three kinds of lettuce, lechuga, / Corn early and late, sunflowers
to go with. / Some dill. Left space for radishes. //
are all around us, breathing on our seeds. // When planting, I feel
them, a hand on my shoulder, / A suggestion. But my ancestors werent
gardeners! // Their advice, confusing, odd: Read Ovid. Wear a hat. /
Study Lucretius. Write your sister. // Stop with the romaine and buttercrunch,
already. // Listen to us, listen, then water.
Dont let the simplicity of these poems fool you. Hills craftsmanship
is impeccable, and her wordplay a delight. In "More or Less, By
Noonlight" we learn, First hummer heard, rush to fill feeders.
/ A primary day: blue sky, red insistence, flock of goldfinch. // From
these, comes the possible. Or this wonderful passage from "Under
Shandokah" in which she tells us, Walking to where falling
water makes four sounds. / We find a glade tuned to the truth in a pocket
of pond. / Its the inner loom of the forest, hung with webs and
willows weft, / a fluff of seed and scatter. In Hills world,
the line between man and nature blurs; in Nacimento, Neruda"
she writes, If only your green eyes flecked with sun / did not
buzz and hum all night / to the ragged shore of morning. // If only
this mountain was not so much like the sea, / rising and falling on
our breath, / and these hills, forgiving themselves over and over into
valleys. And time is no longer counted in years, but in birds.
"Umpteen Blue Jays Later" is a good example: Twelve
years, thirteen whoopers, sandhill cranes, / and conversations always
stopped / by the swoop of redtail. // Many pine siskins later, / hooded
junkos and the one time only oriole. / Were older. Maybe wiser,
/ but certainly richer in magpies and starlings.
Ultimately, Hills advice to poets is best expressed in these first
lines from "Everything Aspires" in which we learn, Tufted
ear squirrel at the feeder, / keeps cautious outlook, feasting on seed.
/ Then scampers off, startled / by some shift in the landscape Ive
missed. // I dont miss much these days. / Im a tuning fork
to the winds. What fun! This book is a pleasure from cover to