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Calendars of Fire

Calendars of Fire is an extended elegy whose grief is political as well as personal. Across barriers of tribe, history, and mortaliity, these poems carry us home with their music to a dwelling place in our own resonant bodies.

"Lee Sharkey writes an exemplary poetry of conscience that exposes and refutes that 'the warden is also the historian.' Her 'slit-tongued questions' combined with her 'throat song' are reminiscent of Lorca's Deep Song, Darwish's celebratory lyrics of life, and narratives all her own. When you are done reading Calendars of Fire, you will know what it means to 'shiver from the we in tenderness.'"
Fady Joudah

"In her stunning fourth book of poems, Lee Sharkey takes on the work, simultaneously elegiac and urgent, of reading 'what has happened back to happening.' From line to startling line, she evokes the sufferings of persons affected by war and other oppressions, sometimes in juxtaposition to personal grief. Sources—from the Spanish Inquisition to Palestine and Sarajevo—are identified only in the notes; the poems themselves conflate without generalizing, placing us, through compelling images and breathtaking particulars, in scenes at once foreign and familiar. Profoundly disturbing but ultimately hopeful, Calendars of Fire rewards and challenges with each re-reading."
Martha Collins

"When you finish reading Calendars of Fire the first time, you will want to go right back to the beginning and start reading it again, and again, and each time it will renew itself in its own flames, in its feel for the tormented and terrorized, the imprisoned and interrogated, the violated and voiceless. You will return to it also for the crystal through which Lee Sharkey views not only the harm and violence we do to one another, but also the inexplicable human tenderness that sometimes survives. And you will want to read the book again for the sorrow in its honed, ceremonial diction and the strength in its varied, strophic lines. “The whole harm entered me,” writes the poet in the title poem, and “love branded my throat with tongues.” As with the poet, so too her grateful readers.
Fred Marchant 

"Each poem is an attunement of physical, mental, moral and, indeed, spiritual perceptions of politics, genders, natural beauties, toils, hungers, wretchedness, that have been recognized, assembled, disassembled and framed in language as evocations of all manner of empathy, indignation, moral outrage, and love."
Dana Wilde, The New Maine Times  

"When I was an early reader, nearly every book seemed to change my life. I remember that feeling, rather addictive, but I only have it once or twice a year now. What was the last book that changed your life? Calendars of Fire is a collection to heed. . . . [It] makes you crave more courage for yourself, others, and this shared life."
Heather Dobbins, The The

Calendars of Fire is a Split This Rock Recommended Poetry Book of 2013 and won honorable mention for both the Sheila Motton and Eric Hoffer Book Awards.

Poems from the book.

Calendars of Fire is available from Tupelo Press. See also the Reader's Companion to Calendars of Fire.