Fisher-Wirth's poems are so alive in their artistry, so
exploding with surprise, so lyric in their knowledge of bidden and
forbidden loves, so open to the breath of the natural world and to the
perfume of theater and mask--I'm dazzled and overjoyed by this book. The
two extended sequences, "Walking Wu Wei's Scroll" and
"The Trinket Poems," are in utter contrast to each other
except that both are breathtaking.
Every poem Ann Fisher-Wirth writes is a sort of love poem, a love poem of the most incandescent and risky and reckless and sensual sort, a love big enough to take in the world and conjure the erasure of everything so beloved. Hers is a poetry that is ruthless in its intensity and terrible beauty. It's a "creature of tongues, it watches from shadows." It tells us, "Take off your skin." The message is urgent, and dangerous. It makes us want to live in such fire.
What a selfless and exact view of the world Ann Fisher-Wirth gives us in Five Terraces! These poems step away from the daily rush of enterprise and take the larger, longer view of the world from an honest and hard-won distance. She sees each past in its own light, and especially in the two mirror poems that begin and end the book, the poet gives herself up to her subjects in a poetry whose first project is meaning, a clear and honest embrace of luminous particulars that blesses and transforms us all.
By turns volatile, tender, contemplative, reverent, or confessional, Ann Fisher-Wirth’s poems in Five Terraces are also acutely intelligent, passionate, searchingly honest, revelatory, and moving. While traversing a wide range of outer geographies--from Mississippi to a Ming dynasty landscape to Uppsala, Sweden, the poet also charts a great expanse of her inner topography, revealing therein the myriad complexities of identity, in her various roles as wife, mother, daughter, and artist. In this rich, impassioned, and wise collection, Ann Fisher-Wirth extends our appreciation of what comprises dignity, love, loss, transcendence, and grace.