My New Favorite Poetry Anthology – From the Fishouse

Firstly the word “fishouse” didn’t seem strange to me until I tried to type it and realized I would have assumed it was spelled “fishhouse”.  I digress…

At any rate, this book was purchased w/ a Barnes and Noble gift card, part of my holiday “loot”. First off,  I was already in a small sort of ecstasy when found that the poetry section had not just one short set of paltry shelves, but four.  But I saw this book – it’s full title being “From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great” (Fiona, put that title in your pipe and smoke it) – and everything just clicked.

The book is divided into 10 sections with alluring titles like “To Whoever Set My Truck on Fire: Poems that Make Various Sorts of Address” and “Spangling the Sea: Poems with Convincing Consonance and Chimes of Internal Rhyme.”

The book plays to the truth of its title and comes with a cd containing author readings of many of the poems. Also, I really enjoy the addition of author’s comments on different aspects of the writing process that are provided at the end of some poems.

The book is borne out of a non-profit foundation called From the Fishouse (their about section actually comments on the spelling as well), dedicated to the oral tradition of poetry. They host a website with an audio archive of work from up and coming poets. They also host a youtube channel, a facebook page, and an i-tunes podcast (these folks really know how to exploit the social media!).

There’s so many I’d like to share, but I chose to include two short poems from the anthology, to give a taste of the book’s invigorating content:

Christian Barter
The Phoenix

Being ash, being dust,
being what’s left on the plate
being the bungalow with a moss eaten roof
a stone’s throw off from the new glass house,

being bone and gristle,
being biomass,
being something stuck to the fridge floor
whiffing of a long-turned tide,
being shredded, un-sought secrets,
being car exhaust,
being half-buried rusted-out bed springs,
sleeping it off in the woods,

being what was washed from the photo by the years,
being what will never wash,
being what’s in the storm drain hurrying off,

the dust flaring up in the comet’s tail,
the toe-nail clippings feeling around under the rug,
the sticks laid out on the highway after a storm,
the pennies on the dashboard short of a dollar,
the hollow core of an old swamp cedar,
the crumpled butt of the sweetest cigarette
you ever had, I am

everywhere and demand my wings.

Mark Conway
The Past Described, As A Figure

What were those days like? Remembering
is like remembering

white, or water. It’s another resemblance,
the libraries packed

with broken metaphors, book after book filled
with “water is like …,”

“white as…” When Alexandria caught fire,
the librarians burned like candels,

like suet. As for the manuscripts and their similes,
nothing was lost – it was like a fire.


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