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Incident Light by H. L. Hix

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“‘Nothing attested, everything sung.’  And these poems are the songs, the mournful lieder of a reimagined life. H. L. Hix’s melodies are pure; his harmonies are haunting and strange. Incident Light composes a soaring chorus from the dark and private notes of long-kept secrets.”— Alyson Hagy, author of Snow, Ashes Read More

“Any new book by this inventive poet is cause for excitement.”—The Kansas City Star

“Hix’s eighth collection is a fine addition to this protean poet’s fast-growing (and critically lauded) body of work. Like C.D. Wright, Hix works both with highly wrought descriptive passages and with verse that sounds like regular speech cutting swiftly between them.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

H. L. Hix’s Incident Light explores a life that became “instantly mythical” after a startling revelation.  The artist Petra Soesemann learned at age forty-nine that the dad who had raised her from birth was not her biological father.  Her dad had died some years before; her father was still alive.  Her dad, like her mother, was a blue-eyed German blond; her father was Turkish, with dark eyes and dark hair like Petra’s own.

Incident Light is a biography: not an ordered account of the facts of a life, but an invitation into the dad’s devotion, the mother’s passion, the father’s honor, and especially into the daughter’s own embracing of her experience, newly understood.  Incident Light testifies to the many lives that converge on one life to lend it beauty and mystery.

Publication date: November 2009

Read an excerpt of Incident Light.

Read Abigail Deutsch’s review of Hix’s Incident Light from Poetry Magazine.

A review of H. L. Hix’s Incident Light is featured on The Best American Poetry’s website.

About the Author


poet H.L. Hix

H. L. Hix has published an anthology, Wild and Whirling Words: A Poetic Conversation (2004), and six books of poetry and literary criticism with Etruscan, including Shadows of Houses (2005), Chromatic (2006), God Bless: A Political/Poetic Discourse (2007), Legible Heavens (2008), Incident Light (2009), and As Easy As Lying: Essays on Poetry (2002).  He has two more books forthcoming from Etruscan, First Fire, Then Birds (2010) and Lines of Inquiry (2011). His seven other books include Spirits Hovering Over the Ashes: Legacies of Postmodern Theory (State University of New York Press, 1995) and translations of Estonian and Lithuanian poetry.

In addition to having been a finalist for the National Book Award for Chromatic, his awards include the T. S. Eliot Prize, the Peregrine Smith Award, and fellowships from the NEA, the Kansas Arts Commission, and the Missouri Arts Council. He earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin, taught at Kansas City Art Institute, and was an administrator at The Cleveland Institute of Art, before accepting his current position as professor in the Creative Writing MFA at the University of Wyoming. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin and at Shanghai University.

Find out more about H.L. Hix on his author page.