Poets and Readers on Annie Finch and Her Poetry
Annie Finch understands better than any contemporary I know what poetry feels like and sounds like when it is completely at home in its traditions. . . She is a major poet, one of very few who understand how lyric lives in part because it can speak for something larger than the ego.
—Charles Altieri, University of California, Berkeley
Annie Finch's poetry is a pure tone that calls us home to the first impulse of poetry. We link to mystery. We lift off.
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. We haven't had a poet so capable of combining control and excess since the young Robert Duncan.
Finch focuses on the cyclical and seasonal, centering on themes of birth, death, family and artistic lineage, sexuality and female spirituality. . . Finch almost always draws one in with an unnerving and utterly unexpected phrase or image, as when addressing "The Moon": "Then you are the dense everywhere that moves,/ the dark matter they haven't yet walked through?" Such moments seem to contain the full duration of this book's calendars.
Annie Finch is more shaman than formalist. She is keenly aware of the shape and sound of her poems. Whether in a chant, sonnet, ghazal, or even Billy Collins’ contrived paradelle, her skill is effortless: form is merely the skin that allows her poems to breathe with ease. . . It is clear that a strong intellect informs these poems. Perfection’s habit, opens us to find / cuts in a window we have never loved— (“The Intellect of Woman”). But their substance—their deeper sense of knowing—flows from the body, the human body and the earth’s. . . This is a collection that illuminates over time. There is endless music of sound and sense. . .
—Cindy Gutierrez in Calyx
Mesmerizing and original, Finch occupies a unique place in American poetry: no one writing today so playfully and intelligently combines lyric and ritual.
— Molly Peacock
Annie Finch has made form a one-eyed woman looking out at us all, beckoning us to enter into her arena and be.
Annie Finch's poems are life-enhancing, sensuous, and pristine in one breath, the sexiest work I've read by a contemporary poet. Her poetry resembles Auden's in intellectual brilliance but she gratefully lack his cynicism. At best, her poetry is filled with a humility born not of a self crushed, but rather through the realization of the absolute fragility of the moment.
At the heart of Annie Finch is a soul whose groundwork is tilled and trained in the art of quietude . . . [her] poetry literally breathes with beautiful prosody. It captivates me. She displays poetic skill as polished as any of the greats. Her poetry is a homage to the art. "
—Michael Parker in MiPoesias
Whenever I get discouraged about some trends in contemporary American poetry, I think of Annie Finch, a shining light, and I feel better.
—Carolyn Kizer, Review of Eve, Michigan Quarterly Review