Barbara Henning

Friday, March 26, 2010

Cities and Memory (Chax Press 2010)

My new book of prose poetry is now available from Chax Press. It collects many of the serial poems from the photo-poem pamphlets, along with another photo essay. I'm very happy about the publications of this book. Ten years of writing and performing these poems. Anyone who would like to review, please ask me (facebook message) or Charles Alexander at Chax for a copy-- ( For a limited time, there is also a good deal subscription option, buying this book, along with new books by Anne Waldman, Tenney Nathanson, Alice Notley and Charles Bernstein. For the subscription go to

Thanks to every one for all their support and the conversations and writing that found its way into this book.

Cities and Memory
ISBN 978 0 925904 87 4

Here are the blurbs--“You are alive and then you’re not, and that’s it,” writes poet and Zen teacher Norman Fischer in a talk on Chan master Zhaozhou. “It’s so easy to forget that this is the case.” Or a little more stringently: “You and I are already dead. We think we’ll be dead later, but that’s baloney. Actually, right now in each breath we are alive and we are dead. We don’t know that and that’s why we are suffering.” Barbara Henning’s radiant Cities and Memory doesn’t have to insist on this, or get all histrionic about it; such a sense of scale and occasion permeates everything here, the correlative lightly-worn gravitas and grandeur inhabiting even the most inconspicuous occurrence. So Cities and Memory gives us every¬thing back, our lives in their ordinary everyday luminosity, nothing special. “Hey yoga girl!” — Tenney Nathanson

Henning is a practitioner of the long view, a life adjacent, introjected, clad in parenthesis. She writes words where they change lanes without signaling. Who she knows, what she knows, her knowing is voracious and nuanced and delicately aware. Barbara is the master of the mixed memoir. She achieves phenomenal nuominal density of specifica¬tion, texture. She writes the weather and the tide and she writes in what some say is an unnatural craft and she makes it seem natural. — Erica Hunt

In Barbara Henning’s Cities and Memory the quotidian choreography of a day is teeming with experiential data meshing the feelings of place, people and time. She strips away static silhouettes shadowing the backdrop of time composure and stillness are shattered as continuous reality is layered in this subtle and sustained work. As if a direct challenge to a possible outcome detailed by Michel de Certeau in The Practice of Everyday Life, “Immobile inside the train, seeing immobile things slip by. What is happening? Nothing is moving inside or outside the train.” Cities and Memory risks itself by opening up to the flood of con¬tinuum streams. These registers are edged with compassion. — Brenda Iijima

Barbara Henning’s new book brings together several years of her atonal musings on au¬tobiography, place and longing. Lyrical bursts punctuate the narrator’s otherwise seamless restlessness — Detroit, New York, Tucson, and India. The following Escheresque lines from one of Henning’s narrators could well have been spoken by Nella Larsen’s Helga Crane: “Why am I here, I think, when I could be there? Because if I were there, I’d be thinking why am I here when I could be there.” As lopsided as a grin on the edge of a nervous grimace (“sex is an ever available age old temporary cure for sadness”), Cities and Memory is a disjunctive incarnation of a simple, profound ethos: “Don’t forget me, he said.” And Henning doesn’t. — Tyrone Williams


Post a Comment

<< Home