Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Things I Didn't Know to Wish For by Linda Hillringhouse



"The poems in Linda Hillringhouse's new collection, The Things I Didn't Know to Wish For, are beautifully polished and glow like jewels. Most importantly, these poems are so brave and bold they will blow the top of your head off. No matter how many times I read this book, I am moved to tears and laughter. These poems make the hair on the back of my neck stand up, and that is my ultimate test for great poetry." - Maria Mazziotti Gillan 


Photo by Mark Hillringhouse

Linda Hillringhouse holds an MFA from Columbia University in Poetry. She was a first-place winner of the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award (2014) and the second-place winner of Nimrod's Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry (2012), which was judged by 2011-2012 United States Poet Laureate Philip Levine. She has received fellowships from the Macdowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her work has appeared in Lips; New Ohio Review; Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry; Oberon Poetry Magazine; Prairie Schooner; The Paterson Literary Review, and elsewhere. 

Hillringhouse is a self-taught painter who has shown her work at the Newark Museum; Paterson Museum; the Yale School of Art, among other venues. Her work is included in the Hamilton Club Art Collection, Paterson, NJ. She was selected for inclusion in the 20th Century Self-Taught Artists Archive Collection at The Museum of American Folk Art in New York City.

In Linda's new poetry collection, The Things I Didn't Know to Wish For, (NYQ Books), she follows May Sarton's dictate to "dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be." 

The first poem of the book, "New Dress," serves as the origin story for the poems that follow. The young girl of the poem is confronted with a truth that will govern her life. It is the devastating fallout from this truth that drives many of the poems in this collection. Hillringhouse comes out from behind her language to face what must be faced if she is to make meaning of her life. And it is in the dangerous beating heart of her poems where she finds meaning and even glimpses of salvation. 


"Linda Hillringhouse's poems are lovely to read and beautifully crafted, at times bitter, ironic and unforgiving, as well as honest and original. She is a truth-sayer and she refuses to compromise, and the poems are emblazoned with this refusal. Whether she is being critical of the culture she grew up in, or tenderly remembers the love and friendship, the voice is the same, and more than anything else, she is seized by the sheer mystery that underlies and permeates her reality. A good way to begin is with the very last poem, "Nieves Penitentes," an example of the broken world she writes so much about. Start there, or start with "...I couldn't stop wondering how it would feel to be that / at home in the universe" in "The Royal Mineral Water Hospital, Bath." Or just start at the beginning and read through, with great delight, as I did."  -  Gerald Stern



Maria Mazziotti Gillan's most recent books are the poetry and photography collection, Paterson Light and Shadow and the poetry collection, What Blooms in Winter. Her collection of poems paired with some of her paintings is The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets. Her artist's website is MariaMazziottiGillan.com and her poetry website is MariaGillan.com.

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