Green The Witch-Hazel Wood

Determined to extract pleasure and meaning from every experience, Hiestand looks for magic properties in familiar objects. Staring out the window of her apartment, she advises herself: “but be alert / as though you were seeing all new, / as Balboa awakened by the Pacific.” Particularly in the impressive book’s first section, the poems share the mechanisms of fairy tales: “The last summer we lived in a picture book,” Hiestand says, and asks in all seriousness, “Is our cat in heaven?”; just as naturally, she refers to Dante or the philosophy of Spinoza. By the middle of the volume, princes depart from their storybook models and desert their maidens. In one of the final poems, “Birthday Party,” enchanting imagery suddenly produces a forceful political statement, all the more potent given the innocence of the poet’s vision. Hiestand manipulates words with uncommon playfulness and precision, and her enjoyment is highly infectious. Jorie Graham selected this first collection for the National Poetry Series.

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Selected by

Jorie Graham