For previous posts on the contributors, see these authors who were all featured in the first section of the book, “Mystics and Messengers.”
And from the second section of the book, “Angels Watching Over Me.”
From the third section of the book, “All in the Family: Mothers, Fathers, Sisters, and Grandfathers.”
I met Ann over a decade ago when she gave a craft talk during the annual Yoknapatawpha Summer Writers Workshop in Oxford. And then in November of 2009 I enjoyed her reading from Five Terraces one night at Rooster’s in Oxford, and we’ve been friends ever since. My favorite poem in that collection was “When You Come to Love.” I did a short blog post review of her book The Ecopoetry Anthology—A Labor of Love Against Despair in 2013. And then in 2016 she and photographer Maude Schuyler-Clay worked together on what they called “Mississippi—A Collaborative Project,” which was later made into a wonderful book of their combined talents, Mississippi. (Wings Press, 2018). And here’s a little-known fact . . . one of the characters in the short story, “Avery,” in my collection, Friends of the Library, was inspired by Ann! (Curious? Get the book and read the story, and when you discover the character, “Julia Wilson,” you’ll know that she was modeled after Ann. Isn’t that fun?)
Meanwhile, onto the more “official” bio information about Ann (that doesn’t include the books I already mentioned above):
Ann Fisher-Wirth’s sixth book of poems is The Bones of Winter Birds (2019). She is a senior fellow of The Black Earth Institute: has had residencies at The Mesa Refuge, Djerassi, Hedgeboook, and CAMAC, France; and has received numerous awards for her work, including a Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Award, two Mississippi Arts Council Poetry Fellowships, a Malahat Review Long Poem Prize, a Rita Dove Poetry Award, and fifteen Pushcart nominations. Ann was 2017 Poet in Residence at Randolph College and has had senior Fulbrights to Switzerland and Sweden. She is Professor of English and directs the Environmental Studies program at the University of Mississippi. (Did y’all get the part where she received FIFTEEN Pushcart nominations?)
And last week I picked up my signed copy of Ann’s latest book at Burke’s Books in Memphis (I was out of town for her reading, PARADISE IS JAGGED. The poems she contributed to All Night, All Day come from this collection.) When I asked Ann if she had any poetry about angels, or near-death experience, or end-of-life experiences, I was so glad she offered this collection of six beautiful poems about her sister, Jennifer, who died in 2019, having been sick with cancer for five months. Again, it’s difficult to do excerpts from poetry, but I’ll try. Here’s the last half of the final stanza of her poem, “Thum.”
“Poems For My Sister Jennifer”
—And why am I telling you this?
The dance of all this dying,
all this grieving,
all this pain, seems to me
like prana moving through us,
like those swaying branches
Mississippi, where at night
the vast trees throb with cicadas’ silver music.
I hope that makes you want to read more! Get the book and read her chapter . . . and get Ann’s books of poetry that will knock your socks off.