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My Life (Green Integer Books, 39) Paperback – May 1, 2002


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My Life (Green Integer Books, 39) + The Descent of Alette (Poets, Penguin)
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Product Details

  • Series: Green Integer
  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Green Integer (May 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931243336
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931243339
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 4.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #786,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Author of The Cold of Poetry, The Cell, and other books, San Francisco poet Lyn Hejinian is today recognized as one of the major American poets.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy P. Bushnell on August 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
One can't talk about this book without making mention of its remarkable structure and history: it was intially written when Ms. Hejinian was thirty-seven, and it consisted of thirty-seven poems, each one containing impressions drawn from the corresponding year of her life. Each of these poems was composed of thirty-seven sentences, as well.
Eight years later, when Ms. Hejinian was forty-five, she revised My Life, adding eight new poems (to bring the total up to forty-five) and inserting eight new sentences into each of the previous poems, adding a new layer of understanding and complexity to the earlier work and questioning the idea that a piece of writing (or the evolution of the self) can ever be "finished."
Additionally, the details that she focuses on in these poems and the way these details are ordered comprise a quiet subversion of traditional biographical structure. Ms. Hejinian avoids the normal biographical trajectories-- "here's how I became a success" or "here are the most important events in my life" -- instead she focuses on minutae like the pattern of tiles in a floor. She also resists the impulse to explain whether these details influenced her later self or even why they are important at all, leaving much up to the reader to determine.
This all contributes to making this a wonderful, astonishing, surprising book; a new way of investigating the experience of being human.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Joe Omalley on May 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
The structure of this book with 45 poems of 45 sentences, one for each year of Hejinian's life, makes the reading of the book like a scale miniature (5 minutes to 1 year) life. It makes you think about your own life and about the relative duration of life events. I read this book right after my first kid was born and I was continually thinking about the possible effect of this event on my life through time.
The book's stucture also allows Hejinian the freedom to stretch out without losing the reader. If you get lost on one poem, you are right back on track for the next one.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nathaniel J Nightshade on November 30, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm no college graduate, so I don't know how useful a review by me would be, but I have read this book twice now and can give a rudimentary review. I'm sure I can give nothing as well as my professor has given, though.

If you're looking for a plot or storyline, look elsewhere. You won't find it here. If what you're looking for is experimental poetry that grasps beauty, then here it is. This book is great for bathroom reading or to discuss with your highly intellectual friends. I can't imagine anybody reading this book who doesn't enjoy the intellectual fittings of life.

I guarantee, no matter how bright you are, you'll get lost reading this book. What's going on? What does she mean? Will we ever know? Well, no, not really. But I suppose that's not the point. I believe the point here is that every reader is allowed to pluck which meaning they wish from the text, and create whichever story lines they wish. Fortunately, it is written in very short increments for the attention impaired, such as myself.

The exposition itself is brilliant. There are as many chapters as there were years in her life when she wrote the book, and there are as many sentences in each chapter as there are chapters. I stole the idea myself the first time I read the book and wrote a memoir called "My Crib of My Life." People liked it (or at least they said they did.) Of course my memoir was nowhere as cryptic or as beautiful. If cryptic and beautiful are what you are looking for, then you will definitely find it here.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By apples on February 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
In order to fully understand the postmodern world, the subversive industry of autobiograpy, the collision between poetry and prose, the influence of hybridity, and the potential of revision any reader of contemporary poetry needs to begin here.

The writing is complex without being hermetic. Difficult without being resistant. My Life is a necessary text. Generous in its insights, its complicated declarations. This is a perfect marriage of philosophy, poetry, and mathematics.

Read this always and often.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. A Carty on July 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
This was a difficult read for me, personally. I was intrigued by what the poet was trying to accomplish, but I found myself often drifiting off because I wanted line breaks to help move me through the poem.

Hejinian's poems are very dense but although difficult to read, quite fascinating. I was drawn to the way she used repetition throughout the poems; in particular I was impressed by the way she used specific lines in their entirety in different poems throughout the book to given a reverberation to the life she is chronicling.

This is a must read for any modern poet and is a great collection for instruction. The everday reader, however, may find this a difficult group of poems to get into because of their densitry, but we should all be up for adventure and challenge :)
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