All places are complicated, because what one becomes depends on them, but I think poets who are native Californian's have bewildering ironic relationships to the place, and not just because California has changed. It's that there are references so strange, so odd, one feels he couldn't explain them to anyone.... Like Didion or Hass, Kevin Hearle is obsessed by an identity that doesn't exist in the world of others, a place (is identity possible without a place?) that doesn't exist anyway now, something that can't be expressed.... This is a brilliant first book, not because the poet is a native Californian troubled by his sense of exile from the place even though he lives there. It's brilliant because the poet is so gifted. By the end of it Hearle sees through his illusions, and cherished self-enchantments, has seen through himself, so that this book, at the end, looks out on the world. --from The Introduction by Larry Levis
Kevin gives an overview of the book:
from "Water and Power"
Despite your thousand pious gigolo suburbs;
and even though I know the lies the angels tell the living
in Los Angeles--the way history eclipses history here
and passes into fable--this is my heritage: the land of the lawn
and the home of the sprinkler head. Oh, I have wasted my time
detesting the soap kings and the chewing gum barons--
so much time on the real estate men planning their floral parades
and football games. They were nothing;
each one mortal and pitiful. It is the lawn which has survived,
and which I hate, I do not think they would have come--
the bacon and ham millionaires of Illinois,
the five and dime rich merchants of Ohio--if
there hadn't been lawns for the making. Without dichondra
they would not have boarded the Pullman cares for Pasadena
and Santa Barbara. If not for the sprinkler heads,
which made an arid land seem green and neatly divisible,
the railroad speculators could not have brought Iowa west,
in square lots, to the Pacific. And,....
Poems from this book have been reprinted in California Poetry: from the Gold Rush to the Present (Berkeley: The California Legacy Series of Santa Clara University and Heyday Press, 2004), Unfolding Beauty: Celebrating California's Landscapes (Berkeley: The California Legacy Series of Santa Clara University and Heyday Press, 2000), and The Poetry Cure (Tarset, UK: Bloodaxe Books and the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, 2005), and will be reprinted in the upcoming anthology Califlora (Berkeley: The California Legacy Series of Santa Clara University and Heyday Books, 2011)
I am a 5th generation Californian, descended from '49ers who headed south in 1870. My great-great grandfather was the first doctor in Santa Ana. I was born in Santa Ana and raised there and in Irvine. I moved to Northern California to attend Stanford University and become a...