Dream Cabinet

(Wings Press, 2012)

Dream Cabinet is the fourth full-length book of poems by Ann Fisher-Wirth. In Dream Cabinet, Fisher-Wirth grounds her work in her life’s home places–California, Mississippi–and writes of a full cycle of human life. She extends her range to include two long, experimental sequences: the title ecopoem “Dream Cabinet,” set on an island in Sweden, and the eloquent poem about her first marriage called “Answers I Did Not Give to the Annulment Questionnaire.” This is poetry of great beauty and searing honesty, poetry responsive to compelling personal, political, and environmental issues of our times, and–finally–poetry always aware of the evanescence, the “dream cabinet” quality, of all mortal experience. MacArthur Fellow and winner of the National Book Award, Robert Hass has written, “Many American poets have written ‘the autobiographical lyric.’ Very few poets have written it with such fierce and stinging accuracy as Fisher-Wirth.” (Paperback, 96 pages)


All the world and life are here, in the Dream Cabinet. Children, grandchildren, husbands, fathers, mothers, redwoods, dogwoods, tree frogs: the living and the dying and the dead. These poems catalog sorrow and rejuvenation, anger, loss, love and terror. The doors of the Dream Cabinet open to reveal what we might apprehend of this delicate, beautiful world. Ann Fisher-Wirth is a vital and vibrant poet, and this is her best book yet.

–  Camille T. Dungy

Ann Fisher-Wirth renders the particulars of a woman’s life in “heretic narrative[s]” distinguished by the rigor of her self-reflections and the emotional richness of her responses. Dream Cabinet may be read as a book of love poems to her husband, children and grandchildren, her parents, the natural world. Even as they contemplate the persistence of pain and the “battening down [it takes] to survive,” these gutsy lyric poems leave us with a sense of abundance.

–  Chana Bloch

Ann Fisher-Wirth finds in “all of creation sudden music,” the subjects in Dream Cabinet ranging from the BP oil spill to the “hidden seeds” of intimate memory. She reminds us that the earth’s uncertain passage is inextricable from our own as she deftly interweaves the political with the personal—crafting again and again “the made thing out of the sheltering darkness.”

–  Claudia Emerson

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