Letter to Leonard Cohen by Nancy Hechinger

Nancy Hechinger’s chapbook has been a favourite re-read on my London commute. Like Kitty Jospé, Hechinger and I shared many a workshop roundtable in the Pacific University MFA program. And like Jospé, her work has rocketed forward in depth and quality owing to that time. But Hechinger’s poems embody a different take on femininity — a punchy, NYC-bred divorced-and-single-womanhood that is tough and tender all at once, where “we still sleep and read on the side of the bed / that was always ours, wonder if coming / alone is worth the pain of memory.” (“Early December”)

These are poems of homosocial collusion and collision. In “Jacks” the speaker tells us, “My mother was nifty, cool, gorgeous, / could scoop up fours-ies easy as ones-ies. / She was so close, I could almost touch her.” And “When Wives Dream,” she tells us, “We roared. / We snorted. The men turned around / to find out what was so funny. / We shut right up, stood, smoothed our skirts, / rearranged the salads, and asked them when / the hell the chicken would be done.”

But this short, snappy collection gains even keener focus when treating the rougher sex, who smell like “cumin” and “leather in the sun.” (“The Smell of Men”) Continue reading…