"A child is very ill; there is a hospital. . . . The subject is as basic as a bowl and a nail, wood and a house, and a house on fire." --Fanny Howe, from the introduction
House and Fire is a mother's love song to her stricken young son, written over the years of his hospitalizations for an acute immune disorder. Maria Hummel is a poet of dazzling formal mastery, whose eerie, radiant lyrics and stories evoke the pediatric ward, California life, and the immortal, endangered world of childhood. This unforgettable debut was selected by Fanny Howe.
From "House and Fire":
for thirty-three years
I didn't make anything
with my body
and thenyour brother
and thenhe sickened
watching him sleephooked to tubes
an empty envelopeinside me
fills each dawnwith one long love letter
it's mostly apology
A former Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry, Maria Hummel is the author of two novels and poetry and prose in Poetry, Narrative, and The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of Poetry Magazine. She teaches at Stanford University and lives in San Francisco, California.
Fanny Howe has written many books of poetry, and her Selected Poems (UC Press, 2000) won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize.
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