What is the last book of poetry that took your breath away?
I am not going to single one book out because I have too many friends writing astounding poetry, so I will only mention the dead. I always find inspiration reading Yeats, Jane Kenyon and Neruda to name a few. The last novel to take my breath away was “A Visit From the Goon Squad,” by the amazing Jennifer Egan.
Whose music inspires you to write?
Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith & Ludwig Van Beethoven.
What are your three favorite films of all time?
This is tough because some movies just don’t hold up in the reviewing over time but three that have, for me, are La Strada, Atlantic City, and O Brother Where Art Thou.
What is a concert that you saw in person that you will never forget?
Leonard Cohen in Los Angeles in 2009. I have never seen anything better and I never expect to see anything better.
Complete this sentence: “If I were to teach a course on the works of one author, that author would be…”
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
From a sidewalk bench
I watch N shrink
then vanish down
Ben Yehuda Street,
looking for the pharmacy
We’ve walked so far in heat
my feet won’t face another step.
The first half-hour or two
I’m happy for the rest.
But, when the sun declines
and the third man
comes on to me in Hebrew
then in English, I realize
I’m taken for a hooker
and my heart begins to race.
I grow certain that N
is maimed or dead.
Why else would he leave me here so long?
Jet-lagged and dazed, I’m sure
he’s crossed against the red
and into traffic.
How long to wait before I flag police?
To feel light and free,
I’d left my stuff behind:
passport, camera, phone;
no shekels in my pocket,
just a key to the apartment
on a street whose name I can’t recall
or if remembered
could not pronounce or find.
He comes back whole,
waving his arms in explanation.
I’m not angry or impressed,
lost now in my own story:
orphan girl, crumbs in her pocket,
living by wit alone in a strange
(first published in Re)Verb)
. . . . . . .
The Angel Garmin
Long have I wished for a calm voice
pointing me home,
a confident voice telling which fork
in the forest road,
leads to the soup, the bread,
the welcoming bed,
and which to dead-end
One night I circled a flat Texas town
for hours in my rented Ford
searching for the Hampton Inn
I’d left in daylight before
the unpredicted storm blew down.
The water rose; the gas gauge fell.
I surely had fore-tasted hell
lost in the unfamiliar, flooded town.
Now, the Angel Garmin takes
me through the four-level interchange,
over cloverleaf and roundabout,
keep left, exit, turn right,
she tells me. Perfect
mother, gaurdian, guide
all knowing, but flexible, kind,
never scolding when I fail
to turn as I am told,
she simply recalculates
finds me, brings me back home.
. . . . . .
Donna Hilbert was born in the Red River Valley of Oklahoma near the Texas border but has spent most of her life in Southern California. She is a graduate of Califonia State University, Long Beach. Her latest book is The Green Season, World Parade Books 2009. Other books include Traveler in Paradise: New and Selected Poems, PEARL Editions, 2004 Transforming Matter, PEARL 2000, Feathers and Dust, Deep Red and Mansions, all from Event Horizon Press. In 1994 she won the Staple First Edition writing award resulting in the publication in England of the short story collection, Women who Make Money and the Men Who Love Them. Her Greatest Hits chapbook, which includes her most anthologized poems from 1989-2000, is available from Pudding House. She has often traveled to England to give readings and workshops and has served as Vice President for Programs of PEN Center USA West. Her work is the subject of the short film “Grief Becomes Me,” by director Christine Fugate, which was shown as a work-in-progress at the Kentucky Women Writer’s Conference in March of 2005, and is included in the now completed Grief Becomes Me: A Love Story, the documentary about her life and work. She is listed in the Greenwood Encylopedia of American Poetry. A new collection of poetry is forthcoming from Aortic Books.
The Green Season: Poems and Stories (2008)