On Our Shelves Now
"The imperishable quiet at the heart of form." This quietness to be found by contemplating the photographs of Maude Schuyler Clay was at the heart of Ann Fisher-Wirth's poetic process, which involved listening—listening to the voices that spoke their stories somehow in connection, however oblique, with the photographs. Clay is a seventh-generation Mississippian; Fisher-Wirth has lived there for 30 years, so the images and words represent long, complicated accumulations and recombinations of visual and linguistic experience.
About the Author
Maude Schuyler Clay was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. After attending the University of Mississippi and the Memphis Academy of Arts, she assisted the photographer William Eggleston. Her photographs have appeared in publications such as Esquire, Fortune, and Vanity Fair, and are included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The National Museum for Women in the Arts, and the High Museum, Atlanta, among others. Ann Fisher-Wirth holds a Ph.D. in English and American literature from Claremont Graduate School. Fisher-Wirth has held Fulbrights to Switzerland and Sweden.
"... the visual images are beautiful if we just look around—inside and especially outside in nature. These poems are in the voices of women and men, and while they seem to catch the tone of these unknown common folk, they are more soliloquies than the poetry encountered in the earlier, elegant books by Fisher-Wirth. Yet, the voices are right for this book, because they feel as real as the photographic images of country life. Both artists have lived in the state long enough to know its history, landscapes, and people." —Robert Bonazzi, San Antonio Express-News
"Mississippi is a forty-seven-part poem; each part paired with a different photograph... the speaker is a collective consciousness, mostly many specific voices, reminiscent of William Carlos Williams in his epic poem, Paterson... Fisher-Wirth's poems offer us a complex artifact: a palimpsest of human and natural history written on the damaged landscapes we see pictured in each haunting photograph. Through her poems and Clay's photographs we see a deep view of Mississippi that we may have never been able to see... Mississippi is a poem about place; but also, a poem about listening to the palimpsest of voices (the natural and the human) that have lived in that place." —Iris Jamahl Dunkle, http://poetryflash.org/