Poetry. CALENDARS OF FIRE is an extended elegy whose grief is political as well as personal. Across barriers of tribe, history, and mortality, 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 reminiscient of Lorca's Deep Song, Darwish's celebratory lyrics of life, and narratives all her own. When you are done reading her 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 Starkey 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"
Lee Sharkey is the author of I WILL NOT NAME IT EXCEPT TO SAY (Tupelo Press, 2021), WALKING BACKWARDS (Tupelo, 2016), CALENDARS OF FIRE (Tupelo, 2013), and five earlier books of poems, as well as a number of chapbooks. Her poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including Consequence, FIELD, Kenyon Review, and Tikkun, and has received many awards, including the 2017 Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize and the 2018 Maine Literary Award in Poetry. She served for fifteen years as co-editor of the Beloit Poetry Journal.