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About this poet

Although born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Anne Pierson Wiese grew up in Brooklyn, New York. She is a graduate of Amherst College and the New York University Graduate Writing Workshop, and currently lives and works in New York City.

Wiese won the 2006 Walt Whitman Award for her first collection of poems, Floating City, selected by Kay Ryan, which was published in 2007 by Louisiana State University Press. Other awards include a 2005 Fellowship in Poetry from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and Second Prize in the 2004 Arvon International Poetry Competition sponsored by the Arvon Foundation in Great Britain. She was also a winner in the 2004 "Discovery"/The Nation Poetry Contest and received the First Place Poetry Prize in the 2002 Writers@Work Fellowship Competition.

Her work has been anthologized in Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn (New York University Press, 2006).

In the Beginning

Anne Pierson Wiese
There was the famous photographer, Walker Evans,
who started by photographing old signs and ended
by filling his bathtub with them and washing
himself in the kitchen sink.  There was the Harlem
man whose pet tiger cub grew so big that first
his family and finally he himself fled
the 12th-floor, three-bedroom apartment in the housing
project, returning every day to fling raw chickens
through a crack in the front door.  Love displaces

everything.  All over the city the signs peer
from beneath modern facades, fade in the sun and rain
high up on sides of buildings: BEST QUALITY TWINE.  Ghosts
on brick, cockeyed atop demolition dumpsters, tin
worn delicate as paper, pale lettered—mint,
red, black: ELEVATOR APARTMENTS AVAILABLE:
INQUIRE ON PREMISES.  If you stare at them words
are faces; everyone who ever spelled them out,
ever debated whether to buy twine or rent
an apartment fades up into view wearing shadowy
Homburgs, black veils, parcels in their arms, the winter
air freshening for snow.  Or imagine the face
of a tiger waiting behind a thin metal door,
your furniture demolished, your family living
on friends' floors, your neighbors smelling urine and fur
and losing their tolerance, a policeman
rappelling outside your windows with a dart gun.

Imagine a hunger for the invisible world
so deep it must have existed before you were born.

Reprinted by permission of Louisiana State University Press from Floating City by Anne Pierson Wiese. Copyright © 2006 by Anne Pierson Wiese.

Anne Pierson Wiese

Anne Pierson Wiese

Poet Anne Pierson Wiese won the 2006 Walt Whitman Award for her collection of poems, Floating City

by this poet

poem
In the Brooklyn Botanic Garden the night
heron is on his branch of his tree, blue
moon curve of his body riding low
above the pond, leaves dipping into water
beneath him, green and loose as fingers.
On the far shore, the ibis is where
I left him last time, a black cypher
on his rock. These birds, they go to the
poem
St. Nicholas Park in Harlem is one of few spots
on the island of Manhattan where you can stand
on terraces of rock untouched since men
with surveyor's tools stood on them
to deliver the bad news, back in the last 
century but one: Gentlemen, here is a substance
we cannot move.  So they built around,
below and