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Come celebrate local poet Ann Fisher-Wirth's new collection, Paradise Is Jagged, at Off Square Books, Tuesday, February 28th at 5:30 PM.
About the Book
In this extraordinary collection, Ann Fisher-Wirth looks levelly at mortality, grief, and memory, and reckons with what it is to be urgently alive, bringing her incisive nuance to subjects ranging from the loss of a beloved sister to Mississippi's Parchman Penitentiary to our imperiled natural world to the comforts of marital love. In "Wooden Comb," Fisher-Wirth writes, "I cannot reconcile how the world is sweet, how the world is burning." Paradise Is Jagged is too wise a book to promise impossible reconciliation. Instead it offers a benediction of sorts: Walk with me through this difficult and tender place, it says. Willingly, gratefully, we do.
-Catherine Pierce, Danger Days, 2021-2025 Mississippi Poet Laureate
About the Author
Ann Fisher-Wirth is the author of six previous books of poetry, including The Bones of Winter Birds (Terrapin Books, 2019) and Mississippi, a poetry/photography collaboration with Maude Schuyler Clay (Wings Press, 2018). With Laura-Gray Street, she coedited The Ecopoetry Anthology (Trinity UP, 2013). Her awards include three Mississippi Arts Commission Poetry Fellowships and the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Prize. Most recently, she has received the 2023 Governor's Award for Excellence in Literature and Poetry from the Mississippi Arts Commission. She has had residencies at Djerassi, Hedgebrook, The Mesa Refuge, Camac/France, and Storyknife, and was the 2017 Anne Spencer Poet in Residence at Randolph College. In 1994-1995 she taught on a Fulbright award at Fribourg, Switzerland, and in 2002-2003 she was Fulbright Distinguished Chair of American Studies at Uppsala, Sweden. Recently she coedited a collection of eco-writing and eco-art from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Oceania, and the American South with Laura-Gray Street and regional editors Mildred Barya, Esther Vincent, Juan Carlos Galeano, and Craig Santos Perez, for the journal The Global South. A senior fellow and board member of the Black Earth Institute, she is newly retired from the University of Mississippi, where she taught in the MFA program and directed the Environmental Studies program. She lives in Oxford, Mississippi.
In this tremendously gifted offering, Ann Fisher-Wirth's meticulous introspections are subplot to brilliantly free poetic wanderings over intersections in time/space with family, friends, losses, loves, the natural world, a multitude of birds, of tiny creatures, of living things, of life as we know, dream, and imagine it-so many lives in a splendored stream. At the end we come to revelation, in a poem about the death of a teacher, "Thich Nhat Hanh, or Thay" "How could I ever be afraid of death? // This morning I woke // still wrapped in his blessing, merciful as the rain." This book is an essential contribution to American Letters, sure to be cherished, and a winner all the way.
--Allison Adele Hedge Coke, Look at This Blue
As a poet, Ann Fisher-Wirth is a steadfast wizard of telltale imagery and at-the-ready music. Sometimes in Paradise Is Jagged, a work of empathy, tact, delicacy, and flourishing moral and physical beauty, it's as if a Japanese Zen archer and poet-priest had taken on the guise of a Southern pastoralist. Her lyric concentration and attention to home, alive nature, and struggling humanity are that sacred and arrow-sure.
--Cyrus Cassells, 2021 Texas Poet Laureate, The World That the Shooter Left Us