Poetry Sunday: “En Route to Bolinas, A Rose,” by Brenda Hillman

First published in The Journal. From Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire (Wesleyan University Press 2013) and published here with permission of the press. All rights reserved. Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire can be ordered here.


Brenda Hillman is a professor in Saint Mary’s College’s MFA in Creative Writing and English department. She is the author of nine collections of poetry: White Dress, Fortress, Death Tractates, Bright Existence, Loose Sugar, Cascadia, Pieces of Air in the Epic (winner of the William Carlos Williams Prize for Poetry), Practical Water (which won the L.A. Times Book Award for Poetry), and Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire (which received the 2014 Griffin Poetry Prize and the Northern California Book Award for Poetry). Among the books she has coedited are Richard O. Moore’s Particulars of Place (with Garrett Caples and Paul Ebenkamp) and The Grand Permission: New Writings on Poetics and Motherhood (with Patricia Dienstfrey). In 2016 she was named an Academy of American Poets Chancellor. Her website is here.

Author photo: Cybele Knowles.


Poet’s Note

This poem was first published in The Journal, then in Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire (Wesleyan University Press 2013), a book that has to do with the micro-seasons of the West, and with the spiritual and political states that accompany encounters with the non-human world and vice versa, including the spirit worlds and the bodies of animals and plants. This particular poem is dedicated to a wonderful writer, Aggie Murch, who lives with her husband Walter Murch in Bolinas; this was written after a misty drive in early February from Inverness to Bolinas and back.

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  • Susan Gunter June 26, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    This is a thoughtful analysis that extends the poem’s reach without detracting from its impact. I loved the comparison to watercolor so, though it is possible to make some revisions to a watercolor painting through a technique called “lifting.” The subtle shading in the poem makes me think of the way colors wash into other colors, as they do in a rose.