07 - Five Terraces by Ann Fisher-Wirth Jul 10, 2008 7:08:24 GMT 2
Post by shayepoet on Jul 10, 2008 7:08:24 GMT 2
"Splendor. Ardor. Surrender. Ann Fisher-Wirth’s poems are so alive in their artistry, so exploding with surprise,
so lyric in their knowledge of bidden and unbidden loves, so open to the breath of the natural world and to the perfume
of theater and mask—I’m dazzled and overjoyed by this book. The two extended sequences, “Walking Wu Wei’s Scroll”
and “The Trinket Poems,” are in utter contrast to each other except that both are breathtaking."
When You Come to Love
When you come to love,
bring all you have.
Bring the milk in the jug,
the checked cloth on the table—
the conch that sang the sea
when you were small,
and your moonstone rings,
your dream of wolves,
your woven bracelets.
For the key to love is in the fire’s nest,
and the riddle of love
is the hawk’s dropped feather.
Bring every bowl and ewer,
every cup and chalice, jar,
for love will fill them all—
And, dazzled with the day,
fold the sunlight in your sheets,
fold the smell of salt and leaves,
of summer, sweat, and roses,
to shake them out when you need them most,
For love is strong as death.
Raves for Five Terraces:
"Every poem Ann Fisher-Wirth writes is a sort of love poem, a love poem of the most incandescent and risky and reckless and sensual sort, a love big enough to take in the world and conjure the erasure of everything so beloved. Hers is a poetry that is ruthless in its intensity and terrible beauty. It's a 'creature of tongues, it watches from shadows.' It tells us, 'Take off your skin.' The message is urgent, and dangerous. It makes us want to live in such fire."
"What a selfless and exact view of the world Ann Fisher-Wirth gives us in Five Terraces! These poems step away from the daily rush of enterprise and take the larger, longer view of the world from an honest and hard-won distance. She sees each past in its own light, and especially in the two mirror poems that begin and end the book, the poet gives herself up to her subjects in a poetry whose first project is meaning, a clear and honest embrace of luminous particulars that blesses and transforms us all."
"By turns volatile, tender, contemplative, reverent, or confessional, Ann Fisher-Wirth’s poems in Five Terraces are also acutely intelligent, passionate, searchingly honest, revelatory, and moving. While traversing a wide range of outer geographies—from Mississippi to a Ming dynasty landscape to Uppsala, Sweden, the poet also charts a great expanse of her inner topography, revealing therein the myriad complexities of identity, in her various roles as wife, mother, daughter, and artist. In this rich, impassioned, and wise collection, Ann Fisher-Wirth extends our appreciation of what comprises dignity, love, loss, transcendence, and grace."
Reviews for Five Terraces:
"In Ann Fisher-Wirth’s latest collection, Five Terraces, a fifth century Ming Dynasty scroll becomes a map the speaker consults as she navigates her past, wandering its edges the way modern museum-goers wander the room-length exhibit: viewing it from various perspectives, including the fog-like ether of time. That Fisher-Wirth uses her stunning ekphrastic poem, “Walking Wu Wei’s Scroll…” twice, mirror-like, to bookend the collection is daring. That she manages, through these facing mirrors, to render intimate details of her life both universal and timeless, is brilliant. What the reader experiences is a simultaneous journal through the ephemeral and the tangible.
. . . If the mirrored poems are the ephemeral, then the poems between them are the tangible. They show us that to be blessed is to live in the thick of life, messy as it is, flawed as we are: “You cannot know the blessed ones except in mortal flesh / with mortal longing.” Everything is holy, especially the wholly lived life."
-- Patricia Crane, Poetry International 12, 2008
". . . It is therefore significant that Ann Fisher-Wirth brackets her newest collection with the poem entitled “Walking Wu-Wei’s Scroll,” a meditation on the painter Wu Wei’s Ming dynasty landscape. In doing so she establishes a meditative frame around poems fraught with the discordances and concordances of human life. Oscillating between the poles of discordance and concordance inevitably leads to a sense of being lost, estranged from those we are with and the places through which we move. Thus, Ann Fisher-Wirth’s choice of a [line] by Eudora Welty to serve as epigraph to these poems is also fitting: “When you go looking for what is lost, everything is a sign.”
-- Tom Pynn, VOX Journal (tinyurl.com/5p2tx5)
"Eastern poetic traditions, western contemporary poetic forms, characters and actors from the theatre, multiple geographies including Mississippi, Sweden, and France—all can be found rubbing elbows in this collection of poems by Ann Fisher-Wirth. Even though the structure and approach of the poems change from a more imagistic Eastern approach to the free verse of contemporary American poetry, the poems coalesce to provide a thematic whole that is eye-opening in the honest and unflinching appraisal of what it is like to be a woman passing through the middle of her life into new understanding and maturity.
But what makes Five Terraces so compelling is its central message: The speaker is able to inhabit moments of grief and loss, and come finally to peace. Fisher-Wirth invites the reader too to look behind the mask, to face and accept the real, in all of its anguish and joy."
-- Amy Unsworth, Blackbird (tinyurl.com/5qlkk6)
"In Shanxi province, China, there is a mountain, Wutai Shan, which means “Mountain of Five Terraces.” It is said that Manjusri, the bodhisatttva representing wisdom, resides there, centered between Buddha’s eyebrows.
So it is not insignificant that the poem for which this collection is titled, “Five Terraces,” occurs almost dead-center in the book, for wisdom is what you find at its heart, its center. Consider some of the subjects she explores throughout this collection: the complexities of love, the death of a parent, the death of a child: all of these imply a circumnavigation of the heart, and an excavation of it."
-- Cati Porter, for Poetry Southeast (tinyurl.com/5onqaa)
Interview with Lisa Guarini, 2007: tinyurl.com/6g742v
Interview and reading at Kelly House, University of Pennsylvania, 2006: tinyurl.com/5kqpj3
About the author:
Ann Fisher-Wirth’s third book of poems, Carta Marina, will appear from Wings Press in April 2009. She has published two books of poems—Blue Window (Archer Books, 2003) and Five Terraces (Wind Publications, 2005)—and two chapbooks—The Trinket Poems (Wind, 2003: runner-up for the Quentin R. Howard Chapbook Prize) and Walking Wu Wei’s Scroll (online, Drunken Boat, 2005). Her prizes include a Malahat Review Long Poem Prize, the Rita Dove Poetry Award, a Poetry Award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters, and two Poetry Fellowships from the Mississippi Arts Commission. She has received six Pushcart nominations and, for 2007, a Pushcart Special Mention. She has received Honorable Mention in the Center for Book Arts Chapbook competition, the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Competition, and the Missouri Review Editors’ Prize competition; and she has been a Finalist for many book contests and prizes. Her poems have appeared or will appear in many journals, including The Georgia Review, The Kenyon Review, ISLE, Blackbird, How2, Many Mountains Moving, Prairie Schooner, Poetry International, and Runes, as well as in numerous anthologies. A recent essay, “The Authority of Poetry,” appears online in Studio. (tinyurl.com/6b3eez)
Ann is also part of the editorial team for the newly released anthology Letters to the World: Poems from the WOM-PO Listserv, published by Red Hen Press. With Laura-Gray Street, she is coediting an international anthology of ecopoetry, Earth’s Body, which is presently soliciting submissions. Ann teaches at the University of Mississippi, and has held a Fulbright lecturership at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, and a Fulbright Distinguished Chair at Uppsala University, Sweden. She also teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Chatham College. In 2006 she was President of the 1000-member international Association for the Study of Literature and Environment. Her academic publications include a book, William Carlos Williams and Autobiography: The Woods of His Own Nature, and numerous articles on American writers.
University of Mississippi: tinyurl.com/5w88rz
Verse Daily: tinyurl.com/5ol2yd
Reading at Florida State University, 2006: tinyurl.com/6jhhta
ISBN 1-893239-44-6, 132 pages, $14.00
Wind Publications, 2005
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