By LYNETTE BRASFIELD | OCTOBER 23, 2018
Laguna’s Literary Laureates – novelist Suzanne Redfearn and playwright Lojo Simon – were recently among the audience at an intimate gathering where poets Donna Hilbert and Grant Hier (who is LCAD’s esteemed Professor of English and Creative Writing) read from their latest books of poems.
This coming together of local literary royalty, representing poetry, prose and plays – what you might call a terrific trifecta of talent – was a rare delight for all present, who included the hosts of KUCI’s Writers on Writing, Barbara DeMarco Barrett, memoirist, and Marrie Stone, whose short stories have been widely published.
Not all present were of literary lineage, but all were impressed by the reading.
“Listening to Grant Hier’s witty and wonderful short poems made me want to learn more about the art of poetry.”
Laguna Beach artist and former PR executive Joan Gladstone noted, “Listening to Grant Hier’s witty and wonderful short poems made me want to learn more about the art of poetry. I’m looking forward to his next reading at the LCAD gallery on November 9.”
Grant Hier & Donna Hilbert: the poets (also good friends) hold each other's books.
Tim Cooper, retired business owner – a fan of good writing but not usually into poetry – told me, “This is amazing. The poems really hit home with me in ways I didn’t expect. Donna and Grant are great!”
That’s the thing: both poets are madly skilled, their poems profound and insightful, yet also – here’s that dreaded, but appropriate word – accessible.
Which means that someone like me, who is normally challenged to understand what poems are actually about and therefore mostly avoids them, preferring prose, finds herself responding with both head and heart to these sometimes wry, sometimes heart-wrenching, always on-point works of art.
Grant Hier reads from his latest book of poems, Similitude.
Grant’s collection is entitled Similitude. Donna’s is entitled Gravity – with a foreword by none other than Grant Hier.
Why Gravity? Why Similitude?
“I wanted a title for the book that would honor my mother and the spirit of family, so I chose Gravity, the title of an early poem that speaks to the ties of mother and child and was originally collected in my second book, Deep Red,” Donna explains. “My original title for Gravity was Orchards of Our Mothers, a phrase taken from W.H. Auden’s Song of the Master and Boatswain. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make the poem which would have made the title make sense come out right!”
Trust me, all the poems in Gravity have “come out right.” Prepare to be stunned. One of my favorites is Green Pot, which celebrates the evolution of a chamber pot, once owned by Donna’s grandmother, into new uses as it journeys through several generations.
What the two collections have in common, though the poets’ voices are very different, is the strong evocation of the elements that bind us to the earth, to our shared history, and to each other.
”Grant’s Similitude is truly a wonder. Actually, Grant is a wonder, too. ”
Grant’s Similitude is truly a wonder. Actually, Grant is a wonder, too. Poetry is a challenging art. And yet somehow, for 365 consecutive days, he wrote at least one poem in each 24-hour period, proof of the deep well of creativity that resides within this warm, generous man – and his willingness to take on a steep challenge.
The small gathering proved most enjoyable.
Here are a few of my favorite poems...
Here are titles of just a few of my favorites in Similitude: Overtime, Half of the World is Always in Darkness, The Sameness Changing, The Wax Buddha Melts into Slumber, Fallings Out When Dressing, and Femme Fatale as Applied to Food.
Intrigued? You have to read these poems, these fabulous meditations on the myriad elements – literal, ephemeral, ineffable – that make us who we are, and which bind us to this earth and each other.
Donna’s books are available on www.Amazon.com, as are Grant’s. But you can also get a signed copy (or copies, they make great Christmas gifts) of Similitude by attending Grant’s official launch, which takes place at the LCAD Gallery on Ocean Ave on Friday, Nov 9 at 6:30 p.m. Grant will be reading from his collection.