Articles - May 2024

Lyn, life

Life keeps hurtling forward, bursting forth. It’s spring in California, the jasmine’s come in and the streaky roses. It’s been raining hard all morning; just now it stopped abruptly. Lyn writes in My Life, “she observed that detail minutely, as if it were botanical. As if words could unite an ardent intellect with the external material world.” This is Lyn, vitally observing, drawing it all into relation, the mind and the world, botanical, passionate. Making words hold life, making words as life. “Such that art is inseparable from the search for reality,” she writes.

There's dance yet

Lyn Hejinian's 'The Book of a Thousand Eyes' (2013).

Our great teachers don’t stop speaking to us after they’re gone. I hear Lyn’s voice all the time when I’m writing: consider the possibility of adding some playful or lighthearted moments. When I’m doing the dishes: housework is less important than poet-work. When I’m worrying: have you thought about publishing yourself?

Alligators, Hendrix, lightning storms, and the Mister-ssippi

Tales of friendship and art from the road

Lyn Hejinian and Travis Ortiz in 1996.
Lyn Hejinian and Travis Ortiz in 1996. Photo by Katy Lederer.

One of my fondest memories from my long friendship with Lyn Hejinian is a westward cross-country drive across the southern United States together. It was the spring of 1996, and Lyn had just completed a semester teaching at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Her husband, the composer and saxophonist Larry Ochs, was on tour in Europe and was not available to help with the driving. Lyn asked me if I could make the drive with her. 

Dear L.

April 2024

Dear Lyn:

I can’t locate the words that aren’t there for the languagelessness of your having left this plane.


Lyn Hejinian's 'The Beginner' (2001).

Lyn’s talk kept you going. Her questions affirmed, her speculation danced, her allusions morphed into stories, into books you sought out later. Her own writing, her music, and her provocation are self-sufficient. She is gone, and the experiments, each different, stand together, their own shelf. They accommodate me partially, they change as I return.