Brenda Iijima

2004 • 104 pp. • $12.00
ISBN: 9781882022519

Purchase from Small Press Distribution

“Elements, moods, poisons, obstacles; Brenda Iijima’s poems make use of all four, particularly elements, in forming the core of Around Sea. There is a strange, welcoming warmth to these poems that has nothing to do with forcing a personscape onto the land (though Iijima is starkly aware of that force’s inexorable severity): ‘a terrestrial in the face of extra.’ I feel calm during and after reading Around Sea — not abducted, but included, as if presence could override fate through seeing, and getting it down onto the page.”
— Anselm Berrigan

“A brilliant visual and musical work, where the techniques of our times are perfected and abandoned one by one. What goes up, comes down, until the only way out is with it.”
— Fanny Howe

“Brenda Iijima’s Around Sea is a substantial, beautiful, and manifoldly interesting book of poetry. Her focus shifts smoothly from sonic word-play to informational passages drawn from natural sciences and even metallurgy to ecology and passionate urban sociology, and onwards. Her forms often change radically from one section of a poem to another and her rhythms are constantly changing. Readers are happily kept on their toes.”
— Jackson Mac Low

“Around sea’s surround sound’s me. It becomes me being sound being sea. Any me. We. Around Sea’s surround sound’s we. She sells Seychelles by the sea shore’s roar. Will it last. That is this Book’s chore. Who could ask for more. Can poetry preserve skies. Yes. A breath at a time.”
— Alan Davies

“Neither outline nor shape: this is the molecular flux of idea…in Brenda Iijima’s hard-as-diamonds epic. Around Sea plots a threat nexus over a flowering terrain and beneath the serene deep of ‘verdure attributed to rain,’ bonitos, and species extinction…dividing into quanta of insight: the rock and steel we work and sleep in, as well as the ground we walk, support no truths that are not aerial…Iijima’s precision in uncanny exposition, social science apercu, and mercurial jurisprudence.”
— Jack Kimball

Around Sea reviewed by Sarah Porter at ASU.

Round About Seeing: Around Sea reviewed by Meredith Quartermain at Jacket.

Brenda Iijima was born in the hilly town of North Adams, Massachusetts. She is the author of Around Sea (O Books), revv. you’ll—ution (Displaced Press), and If Not Metamorphic (Ahsahta Press) as well as numerous chapbooks and artist’s books. She is the editor of the eco language reader (Nightboat Books and PP@YYL). Currently she is working on a body of work titled Some Simple Things Said by and About Humans—a chronicle of how humans have used animals as surrogates. She is also doing research on women who were murdered in North Adams during the 1970’s when she was growing up there. She is the editor of Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs.



The zeros and ones
which form the web

and the ones and twos
which form us and use

in a blood orange
bed in a membrane

green leaf. Cloning
in low gear. Two eyes

for an engineer. Two
gonads follow the

parsimony of binary.
Wherever there is

redundancy, lay
more eggs. NASA’s

low numbers. Buddha’s
big toes. Muhammad’s

breath. A mote for filling
a potential in massing.

Exponent that acts.
That acts up.


A poem for the land

Corridor after corridor of land
and a pock-marked sky.

The passage is wide
to the solar

Still sister
is in arms

or inward.

Telling this
is like being

tied to a tree
in the garden.


Jungle cleared
Ferruginous cliffs blasted

Upon a settlement
Green palisades

Margin housing
Morning high above head

Tropic to
The last drop

Tepid infested regretted
Burnt paper

Angry protests
Somber paramount



Blood vessels
Blood bath

Almost inconceivable
Gossamer buffalo