"I invite you to allow this remarkable Hiroshima Suite—which he seems to have heard all at once in one non-linear audition—to intone for you until, within the “transluminous horror” of August 6, 1945, we are never not whole again but are, at the same time, in Robert Frost’s phrase, “beyond confusion.” "
William Heyen lives in Brockport, New York. A former Senior Fulbright Lecturer in American literature in Germany, he has won prizes and awards from the NEA, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the American Academy & Institute of Arts & Letters. His poetry has appeared in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Southern Review, American Poetry Review, and in hundreds of other periodicals and anthologies. His Crazy Horse in Stillness won the Small Press Book Award in 1997, Shoah Train: Poems was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2004, and A Poetics of Hiroshima was a Chautauqua Literary & Scientific Circle selection in 2010.
“Hasn’t it never not ever become increasingly unclear—this question flashing among questions of aesthetics—after his end-of-nature books Pterodactyl Rose & The Rope & after his obsessive Erika: Poems of the Holocaust, Ribbons: The Gulf War, Crazy Horse in Stillness, Shoah Train, A Poetics of Hiroshima, The Angel Voices, The Football Corporations & other of his exiles & reconciliations—that Heyen has become the most substantial poet of his American generation?”
– Edwina Seaver, Rome, 2012
Some illuminates say that in one way or another
they’ve transcended time—maybe hitch-hiking, or drugs,
or long abstinence from sleep, or sex, or the mind’s eye
peering into the annals of lilac, or in dream,
or by way of mnemonic mantra, or, or. There was one moment
when Mr. Tanimoto’s soul concentrated into
everything he’d experienced of cherry trees—seeing touching
dreaming smelling tasting—until,
at the moment of his momentary transcendence, a blossom
in its simultaneous myriad colors enveloped him
even while he poled his boat across the river, even while
traumatized passengers moaned & cried.
What’s not never isn’t it to understand about this?
If only we could keep him there, if only, if only …
but here that blossom falls, & time resumes our linear agony.