The Woods Are On Fire

The Woods Are On Fire

New and Selected Poems

Fleda Brown
Introduction by Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser Contemporary Poetry Series

300 pages


March 2017


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

The Woods Are On Fire is Fleda Brown’s deeply human and intensely felt poetic explorations of her life and world. Her account includes her brain-damaged brother, a rickety family cottage, a puzzling and sometimes frightening father, a timid mother, and the adult life that follows with its loves, divorces, and serious illnesses. Visually and emotionally rich, Brown’s poems call on Einstein, Shakespeare, Sophocles, Law and Order, Elvis, and Beethoven. They stand before the Venus de Milo as well as the moon, as they measure distances between what we make as art and who we are as humans. In wide-ranging forms—from the sestina to prose poems—they focus on the natural world as well as the Delaware legislature and the inauguration of William Jefferson Clinton.

The Woods Are On Fire includes nearly fifty new poems, along with poems selected from seven previous books, showcasing an influential American poet’s work over the last few decades. 

Author Bio

Fleda Brown is professor emerita at the University of Delaware and is a faculty member of the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. She served as Delaware’s poet laureate from 2001 to 2007 and is the author of nine poetry books, including The Devil’s Child and Fishing With Blood, and two memoirs, including Driving with Dvořák (Nebraska, 2010). Her work has twice appeared in The Best American Poetry and has won numerous awards, including a Pushcart Prize and the Felix Pollak Prize. 


Previous praise for Fleda Brown’s poetry:
“To read these poems is to look through a newly washed window; the world is strangely bright and, at the same time, frighteningly familiar. This is a difficult effect to achieve—one that only succeeds when it is not an effect but something effortless. In [Brown’s] hands, effort is invisible.”—Judith Kitchen, The Georgia Review
“Reading a poem by Brown is a lesson in how to read one’s life, how each small thing, each seemingly casual detail, is in fact connected to perceptions and understandings of profound significance that we can all divine if only we calm our vision enough to fully experience the perishing present.”—World Literature Today

"This is the kind of light-filled book we use to see the world more clearly and make our way forward—and we do it with a poem in each hand, as Kooser recommends."—Julie Larios, Numero Cinq

Table of Contents

Introduction by Ted Kooser    
I. from Fishing with Blood (1988)
To Mark, My Retarded Brother, Who Lived 20 Years and Learned to Speak 300 Words    
For Grandmother Beth    
A Plain Philosophical Choice    
Out Back    
Catching Turtles    
Fishing with Blood    
Apalachee Bay    
The Scholar’s Cat    
Saving a Life    
He Says How It Was    
Emily Dickinson’s Love    
Love, for Instance    
from “O’Keeffe”    
She Learns to Walk    
She Learns to Talk    
A New Yorker Visits Her Exhibition    
She Marries the Photographer    
An Expert Explains Her Work    
II. from Do Not Peel the Birches (1993)
Elvis at the End of History    
Do Not Peel the Birches    
A Long and Happy Life    
Learning to Dance    
After the Rain    
Loon Cries    
Night Swimming    
My Father Takes My Retarded Brother Sailing    
If I Were a Swan    
A Few Lines from Rehoboth Beach    
Mississippi River, near Cape Girardeau, MO     
Mother of the Bride Dress    
St. Paul’s and St. George’s Church, Edinburgh    
Farthest North Southern Town    
Burdett Palmer’s Foot    
Kitty Hawk    
Bombay Hook    
III. from Breathing In, Breathing Out (2002)
Fourth of July Parade, Albion, WA    
Buying the King-Sized Bed    
Cosmic Pitching    
Highway 5    
The Poet Laureate Addresses the Delaware Legislature Opening Its First Session after September 11    
Rumors of Changes Circulate on Penguins    
Cow Falling    
Leaving Lewisburg    
Mary Rose Quotes James Joyce on the Cliffs at Bray    
Sunday Morning    
Chicken Bone    
For the Inauguration of William Jefferson Clinton, 1997    
Your Body    
I Write My Mother a Poem    
Einstein on Mercer Street    
IV. from The Women Who Loved Elvis All Their Lives (2004)
Tillywilly Fog    
I Escape with My Mother in the DeSoto    
Elvis Aron and Jesse Garon    
Memphis Discovers Elvis    
Elvis Goes to the Army    
Shaking Hands with Nixon    
Sputnik, 1957    
Elvis Sings Gospel    
Industrial Teflon Comes into Use for Kitchen Pots and Pans    
Bus Stop    
The Night before Her Third Marriage, She Watches a Rerun of Elvis’s Comeback Performance    
Elvis Acts as His Own Pallbearer    
Mrs. Louise Welling Spots Elvis at Harding’s Market    
I Visit the Twenty-Four Hour Coin-Op Church of Elvis    
Elvis Reads “The Wild Swans at Coole”     
from “Graceland”     
Elvis’s Bedroom    
Lisa Marie’s Favorite Chair    
The Mirrored Stairwell    
The Meditation Garden    
V. from Reunion (2007)
If Names Started Coming Loose    
Biology Lesson    
What It Was Like    
Fayetteville Junior High    
Knot Tying Lessons: The Slipknot    
Makeup Regimen    
Small Boys Fishing under the Bridge    
Ode to the Buffman Brothers    
Wild Lily of the Valley    
No Heron    
Knot Tying Lessons: The Perfection Knot    
Bladder Campion    
The Death of Cleone    
Poem for Our Twelfth Wedding Anniversary    
Through Security    
Lady’s Slipper    
VI. from Loon Cry: Selected and New Michigan Poems (2010)
Wild Turkeys    
Northern Pike    
VII. from No Need of Sympathy (2013)
Year of the Tent Caterpillars    
For, Or, Nor    
Sugar, Sugar    
The Purpose of Poetry    
The Kayak and the Eiffel Tower    
My Father and Hemingway Go Fishing    
Hare’s Breath    
God, God    
Dancing at Your Wedding    
Child Labor    
Here, in Silence, Are Eight More    
Short History of Music    
Big Bang    
Felled Tree    
Building a Cathedral    
Talk Radio    
Fourteen Lines    
VIII. New Poems
The Swan Flies Straight at Me    
The Undoing    
On a Day That Bombs    
Feeding the Maggots    
Cancer Support Group with Painting by Monet    
Mute Swan    
The Elk Farm    
Edward Hopper’s Automat    
What Happens    
The War    
Tiny Fish    
Every Day I Touch Things    
View from Space    
The Gospel Truth    
Poem for Record Players    
The Sex Life of Anacondas    
The Bar Mitzvah    
Mummy Exhibit    
Getting Free    
July 20, 1944    
Asian Carp    
Cedar Waxwing    
The Poem I Was Going to Write    
Reading the Smithsonian Magazine    
Surrounded by People    
I Say Your Name    
Five Moons    

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