In Gates & Fields, Jennifer Firestone conjures Emily Dickinson to serve as the Virgil of this brave lyric sequence, guiding the poems through the fierce silences at the heart of grief. Firestone is a poet who feels her way forward, and her spare language and intense images cast a vital, vitalizing light across the landscape of loss.
Wondrously strange, eerily healing, like an overheard incantation, these clipped lyrics build sound relationships and repetitions into a conversation among the elements—one that makes them somehow even more elemental, even more essential. Firestone weaves a beautifully haunted atmosphere, enthralling and captivating. We are there with her in the carriage—toward eternity.
Reading these spare poems makes me feel like I am participating in them, overhearing them, such is their suggestiveness and the intimacy of their utterances.
What holds us in is often not what we imagine. Jennifer Firestone knows it better than any of us and her new book is a template of the heavenly earth. Many thanks for this book’s dreamy sluice into another version of our world. If poets can reignite lost eyes on the path, Firestone is our champion. A poet we need, a poet who can show the poet in all who imagine and read.
Firestone’s quiescent elegy is set in another time. Time of death, time of memory, a time of pellucid borderline consciousness. Do we wake or sleep? Poignant, fragile subtleties of existence collect here—particulars transcend and magnify, as in “Guilt and other small planets colliding.” The quiet power of Gates & Fields grows on you, over you.
Spare, rigorous, poignant, Jennifer Firestone’s Gates & Fields unsparingly reveals things we’ve seen yet haven’t seen, seemingly known things—like tree, sky, stone, wood, bone, gate, field, seed, earth, moon, sun, star, eye, snow, light, bird, air, egg, skin, door, heart, brain, cloud, ice, and sea—each of these familiar things made unfamiliar and newly illuminated in poems that suggest Sapphic fragments, erasures of Dickinson lines, and traces of lost stories.
Jennifer Firestone was raised in San Francisco and now lives in Brooklyn. She is an Assistant Professor of Literary Studies at Eugene Lang College (The New School). Her books include Swimming Pool (DoubleCross Press), Flashes (Shearsman Books), Holiday (Shearsman Books), Waves (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs), from Flashes (Sona Books), snapshot (Sona Books), and Fanimaly (Dusie Kollektiv). Firestone co-edited (with Dana Teen Lomax) Letters To Poets: Conversations about Poetics, Politics and Community (Saturnalia Books) and co-authored LITtle by LITtle with photographer and urban geographer, Laura Y. Liu. Firestone has work anthologized in Kindergarde: Avant-Garde Poems, Plays, Songs, & Stories for Children and Building is a Process / Light is an Element: essays and excursions for Myung Mi Kim. Firestone won the 2014 Marsh Hawk Press Robert Creeley Memorial Prize.
Please visit jenniferfirestone.net