Mary Rising Higgins, who passed away in 2007, was a public school teacher for 25 years who dedicated herself to poetry the last years of her life. Higgins describes her introduction to the so-called language poets (by Lee Bartlett) as one of the major turning points in her vocation. This passion became translated in the work of a poet who should be considered a major innovator.
red table(s combines the experimental with lyricism and disjointed language to make a collection of poems that is, at turns, beautiful, difficult, and always surprising. At first, Higgins retains traditional form – flush left margin, in stanzas. Around the middle of the book, the reader can see her form expand and open into the “poetic field” that would become crucial in her later work.
Higgins was a master of the constraint, visual poetics, and “word collecting.”
dinner music space altar ladder
she, the range in each bright spinning song
how he could not look back
She speaks of writing through dreams, dictionary meditations, and scored poems based on letters of the alphabet. Her later work became reflective of Olson’s field and what Higgins describes “about sound and movement in the poem. Linescape, really.”
Evening beads pattern for swallow
she reflects herself
stand kindle splitting
And a bit of geometry in both language and punctuation:
a way to carve out the in)visible
A required curve looks graceful enough
Although Higgins and her work are deeply loved by folks in the Southwest and those whom she was influenced by and who influenced her, her work remains "quiet." I think this relates to Higgins’s geographiphical location, but also to her non-assuming personality; this is the work of a poet who simply loved poetics for its own sake.
(You can find more on Jennifer Barlett herself here.)