Paradise is Jagged (Terrapin Press, 2023)

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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, Mississippi Poet Laureate

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, as Ann Fisher-Wirth’s lyric concentration and attention to home, alive nature, and struggling humanity is that sacred and arrow-sure.

Cyrus Cassells, 2021 Texas Poet Laureate and author of The World That the Shooter Left Us

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 Iwoke // 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, National Book Award Finalist