Deerbrook Editions in Cumberland brought out Leonore Hildebrandt’s third book, “Where You Happen to Be.” The Harrington resident is quietly one of Maine’s most meticulous writers, as evidenced in “The Next Unknown” and “The Work at Hand.”
In the new book she kind of ups the ante on poetic precision by focusing attention on the difficulties of knowing and describing where you are, physically and psychically, at any given point in space-time. Early poems suggest the importance of locations within range of home. In “After Learning”: “I ran to the margins bordering north / where the land ends and the sea ends. / In the quiet, I could hear my own heartbeat.”
In the second section, locations are measured in spatial geometries of the Southwest: “If Earth is divided / into latitudes and longitudes / you still find a place to sit” among boulders, lizards and sun. The point, oversimplified, is that the “location” of who and where you are is difficult to pin down; language helps, but imperfectly. Hence the absorbing effort to perfect the poems.
Hildebrandt, a native of Hamburg, Germany, teaches at the University of Maine and is an editor for Beloit Poetry Journal.
From "OFF RADAR: Broadening the audience," by Dana Wilde