Rational Numbers

H. L. Hix

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Winner of the 2000 T. S. Eliot Prize

In his second book of poetry, H. L. Hix uses two contrasting poetic sequences. The result is a ledger of love and loss, a balancing of grief’s books. Every reader will recognize the accounting in Rational Numbers.

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Product Description

Winner of the 2000 T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry

In his second book of poetry, H. L. Hix uses two contrasting poetic sequences. “Orders of Magnitude” defies rationality in favor of invention in the musical sense: producing a short composition that works out a single idea. As in music, the whole composition achieves its irrational effect through rational formal structure, with 100 poems, each ten lines long, with ten syllables per line. In the second sequence, “Figures,” the speakers follow their pure rationality, though it leads them—inevitably—into the dark heart of the irrational. The result is a ledger of love and loss, a balancing of grief’s books. Every reader will recognize the accounting in Rational Numbers.

I had expected to select a good book, but never one so deeply conceived and utterly achieved.

— Dana Gioia, 2000 T. S. Eliot Prize judge

The sharpness of the language, the wit and feeling, the elegance of the metric are all a gift.

W. S. Merwin

Contents

Dedication
Acknowledgments
Attributions

Orders of Magnitude

Figures

Authors

H. L. Hix was born in Oklahoma and raised in various small towns in the south. After earning his B.A. from Belmont College (now Belmont University) and his PhD (in philosophy) from the University of Texas, Hix taught at the Kansas City Art Institute and was an administrator at the Cleveland Institute of Art, before joining the faculty of the University of Wyoming, where, after a term as director of the creative writing MFA, he now teaches. He has been a visiting professor at Shanghai University and the University of Texas, been the “Distinguished Visitor” at the NEO MFA, and taught in the low-residency MFA at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

For more about the author, see http://www.hlhix.com/index.htm

Reviews

Hix credibly renders some of the emotional costs of looking for enduring truths within conventional life and identity.

Publishers Weekly

This poetry has the special beauty and realism of life itself. It’s not light or predictable, or easily quantifiable. It is whimsical and deeply penetrating, and worth the effort it takes to read it. It’s written with a special voice, the halting speech of doomed love; for a lover; for the world.

ForPoetry.com

While not blatantly experimental, Hix’s poems are relentlessly allusive in a manner that recalls Eliot’s own commitment to the intertextual. Eliot was forced to tag explanatory notes to “The Wasteland” to meet length requirements; Hix puts his notes up front where they serve as a puzzle for readers of the nearly book-length cycle, “Orders of Magnitude.” ...With a little help from his cholarly archive, Hix turns out keen metrics at once playful and soulful, suggesting that there may still be room for a philosophical modernist come lately.

Harvard Review