poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

November, 2008 WMPG Radio Studio, Portland, ME By permission of the author.

About this poet

Poet, translator, librettist, editor and critic Annie Finch was born in New Rochelle, New York on October 31, 1956. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale, a master’s in Creative Writing from the University of Houston, and a doctorate from Stanford University.

Finch's books of poetry include Among the Goddesses: An Epic Libretto in Seven Dreams (Red Hen Press, 2010); Calendars (Tupelo, 2003), shortlisted for the Foreword Poetry Book of the Year Award; Eve (Story Line, 1997); and a translation of the Complete Poems of Louise Labé (University of Chicago Press, 2006). Her innovative performance poem The Encyclopedia of Scotland was published by Salt in 2004.

Numerous anthologies and textbooks include Finch’s work, and her poems have been featured in media outlets from Voice of America to HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. Musical or dance performances inspired by her poetry have been performed at venues including the Spoleto Festival, Lawrence Conservatory, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is also the author of two opera librettos, "Lily Among the Goddesses" and "Marina," based on the life of Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva, which premiered at American Opera Projects in New York.

Finch’s critical writings developing her ideas about poetry have been collected in The Body of Poetry: Essays on Women, Form, and the Poetic Self (Univ. of Michigan Press, 2005) and The Ghost of Meter (Univ. of Michigan Press, 1993). She has also edited several anthologies including An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art (co-edited with Kathrine Varnes, Univ. of Michigan Press, 2002) and A Formal Feeling Comes: Poems in Form by Contemporary Women (Story Line,1994). In 1997 she founded WOM-PO, a national listserv devoted to discussion of women’s poetry.

Uniting all of Finch’s work is a conception of poetry as essentially incantatory, performative, speaking to the body as much as to the mind. The themes of Finch’s poems draw upon earth-centered spirituality, myth, sex, and childbirth. A practicing Wiccan, her poetry is inspired largely by her relationship with the natural world, especially the landscapes of Maine.

About her work, Ron Silliman has said, "Annie Finch is an American original, a master of control who shows no fear of excess, and none of quietness either. With a perfect-pitch ear for the American tongue, she is a formalist as much in the tradition of Robert Duncan and Bernadette Mayer as of Hart Crane and John Berryman. Calendars is a marvelous book, filled with poems whose directness and simplicity are deceptive – they have depths and delights that appear to go on forever."

Finch is currently Director of the Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Southern Maine. She resides in Maine with her husband, the environmentalist Glen Brand, and their two children.

Gulf War and Child: A Curse

Annie Finch
He is sleeping, his fingers curled,
his belly pooled open, his legs gathered, still
in their bent blossom victory.

I couldn't speak of "war" (though we all do),
if I were still the woman who gave birth
to you soft-footed, with your empty hand
and calling heart, that border of new clues.

May the hard birth our two heartbeats unfurled
for two nights that lasted as long as this war
make all sands rage, until the mouth of war
drops its cup, this bleeding gift we poured.

From Eve by Annie Finch, published by Story Line Press. Copyright © 1997 by Annie Finch. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the author.

From Eve by Annie Finch, published by Story Line Press. Copyright © 1997 by Annie Finch. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the author.

Annie Finch

Annie Finch

Annie Finch is the author of Spells: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 2013). She teaches online in the Poetcraft Circles and lives in Portland, Maine.

by this poet

poem
All the things we hide in water
hoping we won't see them go—
(forests growing under water
press against the ones we know)—

and they might have gone on growing
and they might now breathe above
everything I speak of sowing
(everything I try to love).
poem

for Marta

Rumbling a way up my dough's heavy throat to its head, 
seeping the trailed, airborne daughters down into the core, 
bubbles go rioting through my long-kneaded new bread; 
softly, now, breath of the wildest yeast starts to roar. 
My hands work the peaked foam, push insides out
poem

Morning’s a new bird
stirring against me
out of a quiet nest,
coming to flight—

quick-changing,
slow-nodding,
breath-filling body,

life-holding,
waiting,
clean as clear water,

warmth-given,
fire-driven
kindling companion,