Litmus Press
Additional Credits
Cover art & book design by HR Hegnauer
Collaboration, Poetry
Edition, Year
First Edition, 2021
In Print

“The forming of the five senses is a labor of the entire history of the world down to the present.”

— Karl Marx

Hearing is the long-awaited second book in a series of collaborations by Lyn Hejinian and Leslie Scalapino organized around each of the five senses. Their first collaboration in this series, Sight, was published by Edge Books in 1999. Hejinian and Scalapino were nearing the completion of Hearing when Leslie Scalapino died in 2010. Ten years later, the book is published for the first time with a preface by Hejinian and an afterword by Judith Goldman.

Leslie Scalapino
Leslie Scalapino (1947-2010) was born in Santa Barbara, California and raised in Berkeley. She is the author of thirty books of poetry, prose, inter-genre-fiction, plays, and essays, including a collaboration with artist Kiki Smith, The ... Read More
Lyn Hejinian
Lyn Hejinian is a poet, essayist, and translator. She is the author of over twenty-five volumes of poetry and critical prose, including Positions of the Sun (Belladonna, 2019); Tribunal (Omnidawn Books, 2019); The Unfollowing (Omnidawn Books, 2016); ... Read More

Given this is one of the final, if not the final, possible volume of new work by the late beloved Bay Area poet Leslie Scalapino, seeing three pieces included [Lyn Hejinian’s introduction, Judith Goldman’s afterword, and Michael Cross’s note on provenance] that discuss the work within seems both a gift and a rarity.

— Rob McLennan


[Hearing] evoke[s] the idea of sound both in the scenes detailed and in the rhythms of the writing… Readers who enjoy experimental, atmospheric texts will find plenty of rewards.”

Publishers Weekly


Praise for Hearing

Hearing continues and concludes the collaborative project begun by Lyn Hejinian and Leslie Scalapino with Sight (Edge Books, 1999). The two works together represent not only an essay into the poetics of perception and experience, but a demonstration of relation, of friendship, as poetic and dialectical event that is resolutely and importantly non-sentimental, not reconciled to agreement in any unifying sense. Rather, this poetic pas de deux is a dismantling of any conventional relationship to experience in “real” “time,” and in being such / doing so illuminates the transformative nature of our — physical, intellectual, psychological, and social — processes of apprehension: “there there are birds hearing it and so singing hearing their singing”

— E. Tracy Grinnell

Piercing, whirring — Hearing is an impossibly accomplished double poetic achievement. Hejinian and Scalapino seek, practice and find attunement to all that is happening — that is, experience — having entered into a covenant to listen. Friendship is not a mere basis or occasion for the poems. Its wonders — of love, misunderstanding, faithfulness — are the body for the poem, and it, too, is subject to their watchfulness; it is undergone and changed. Reading, we feel the acceleration of their learning, their hesitations, dwelling, departure. I cannot imagine more fruitful pages. “Whooping,” joyous, exemplary, exact—

— Simone White

“Having the sensation that hearing is going to occur—one has a sensation of bliss separately, prior, yet not a memory there or in the future” — with lines such as this, torquing the tools of grammar and form to dizzying effect, Hearing challenges and rewards its readers with its bracingly rigorous and dazzlingly beautiful inquiry into the eponymous perceptual experience through and toward which Lyn Hejinian and Leslie Scalapino write. In their collaboration, Hejinian and Scalapino attend to the sensory experience of “ongoing existence in a phenomenal (material/social) world,” working towards the horizon of writing experience in which the language itself perpetually generates a field of inquiry, rather than pre-defining its thrust and object: a ‘critique’ of hearing as elastic, multifarious in approach, and suggestive as sound itself. “One has a sensation of bliss.”

— 최 Lindsay | Lindsay Choi

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