This Product is Available for Pre-Order
Polymath poet H. L. Hix responds to Plato and Marie de France with wry modern takes.
Plato may have pestered poets out of his republic, but he peppered his dialogues plenty with poetry of his own: the mind as an aviary, the soul as contrary horses chafing their charioteer. Marie de France might be more famed for her Lais, but she could fetch a pretty funny fable. In MORAL TALES, H. L. Hix first treats (not “translates,” quite) and then glosses a suite of each: flighty passages from Plato, earthy fables from Marie. Which makes the moral tales here tales you’ve heard before, but not the way you’ve heard them.
Literary Nonfiction. Poetry.
“Across 'the disruptions of time and distance,' the poet Eavan Boland wrote, writers necessarily 'imagine one another,' construct a conversation that spans centuries and continents, to forge unlikely 'fires of rapport.' H. L. Hix’s MORAL TALES does just this, enacting a lyric engagement with the passages of Plato and the tales of Marie de France that traverses oceans, theologies and languages, to deliver an ancient Greek philosopher into the back seat of an SUV and the realm of the 'selfie,' and a shadowy twelfth century poet into a world of Deadheads, tabloids, and colonoscopies, the nature of the soul more urgent there than it has perhaps ever been. A witty quarrel, a conversation, and a profound devotion, this book is both fabular and timely, and I was utterly transported by its music and its thinking.”
—Molly McCully Brown
“Where do we seek poetry? How do we know when we have found it? Or, is the finding at once poetry’s making? In MORAL TALES, H. L. Hix lets translation take place as this finding, this pursuit towards a making, a poetry of 'invitation to broader vistas.' Contours within contours, a phantom source haunts the text, joining both parts, 'Myths' and 'Fables.' In relief, the ancient and legendary Aesop rustles the pages of Hix’s latest project, gusting from the dove-haunted courtyard of Plato’s Academy past the city walls of an Athens in decline to the ravenous late-twelfth century Anglo-Norman courts of Henry II. Of course, the ancient phantom also gathers the contemporary American situation into its dusk-hued folds, voicing a chilling echo throughout the many-channeled strife of our own age. Moral Tales folds, unfolds, and refolds a soundscape dense and complex—a 'complexity not composed of simples'—out of a language at once supple and brittle , formal and colloquial ('I’m not gonna pass up this chance'). Tirelessly gesturing and evoking, Hix presses subtlety into subtlety.”
—D. M. Spitzer
H. L. Hix's other recent doings include a novel, The Death of H. L. Hix (Serving House Books, 2021); an edition and translation of THE GOSPEL (Broadstone Books, 2020) that merges canonical with noncanonical sources in a single narrative, and refers to God and Jesus without assigning them gender; a poetry collection, Bored In Arcane Cursive Under Lodgepole Bark (Middle Creek Publishing, 2023); an edition, with Julie Kane, of selected poems by contemporary Lithuanian poet Tautvyda Marcinkevičiūtė, called Terribly In Love (Lost Horse Press, 2018); an essay collection, Demonstrategy (Etruscan Press, 2019); and an anthology of "poets and poetries, talking back," Counterclaims (Dalkey Archive Press, 2020). His book Constellation (Cloudbank Books, 2023) was awarded the 2023 Vern Rutsala Prize. He professes philosophy and creative writing at a university in "one of those square states."