If Mercy

“Here is another sheaf of the blackest paper/ set out for your stately, impoverished poems / feeling their way,” writes Frannie Lindsay. In Mercy “impoverished” is synonymous with longing, “stately” is synonymous with magnanimous. Only “the blackest paper” could hold these haunted, prescient poems “feeling their way” through darkness to praise. Here praise is shaped by the fearlessness and fineness that constitute grace. Indeed, Frannie Lindsay’s astonishing poetry is synonymous with grace. Here is a beautiful book from one of our very best contemporary poets. ”
—Terrence Hayes, author of How to Be Drawn

“Frannie Lindsay’s elegant fifth collection is simultaneously elegiac and celebratory, a tribute to both “gone things” and the beautiful that remains. Her primary subjects are human, old and diminished and dying; but her expansive vision encompasses the animal and reaches toward the divine. Using haunting repetitions, extended sentences, and subtle transformations of a carefully-observed natural world, Lindsay creates poems that are both grounded and ineffable. Like the weeping beech tree in the cycle  of poems that closes the book, the collection will be, for the reader,  a “shrine / of sorrow and comfort both."
—Martha Collins, author of Admit One: An American Scrapbook

“Why, when Frannie Lindsay calls me to walk with her on the way of the cross, do I find myself saying yes, yes, thank you? Is it because her beautiful, pungent, sensual laments confirm that I’m not crazy, that the world is in fact as sad and full of grace as I thought? Is it because Lindsay has already written several fiercely lovely books of poems that are essential to me, such that now I will follow her voice absolutely anywhere? Yes, and yes, and thank you."
—Patrick Donnelly, author of The Charge, and Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin

Frannie Lindsay’s fifth volume of poetry, If Mercy, is now available through The Word Works. It will be in bookstores later this spring.

Our Vanishing, her fourth title, received the 2012 Benjamin Saltman Award by Red Hen Press . Her other books are Mayweed (2009 Washington Prize, The Word Works); Lamb (Perugia Prize, Perugia 2006); and Where She Always Was (May Swenson Award, Utah State University Press, 2004). She is the 2008 winner in poetry of The Missouri Review Prize. Her work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Antioch Review, The Atlantic Monthly, Field, Poetry International, The Harvard Review, Shenandoah, The Tampa Review, and many other journals. It also appears in Best American Poetry 2014. Lindsay's work has also been featured in Ted Kooser’s column American Life in Poetry, and on Writer’s Almanac,Poetry Daily, and Verse Daily. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She is a classical pianist.

 

  Our Vanishing“Endlessly inventive and packed with small surprises, these poems turn the ordinary inside-out. Their quiet elegance belies their urgency, always underlying, and makes the language all the more powerful for its restraint. There’s no extraneous decoration here, no prettifying or showing off. The poet takes the world head on, moment by moment, with an intelligence and compassion that are fierce. This is a poet who deserves far greater recognition than she has received. She’s among the very best of her generation, and Our Vanishing is one of the most honest, moving books I’ve read in years.”
—Chase Twichell

“It’s rare to find a collection of poems driven and infused throughout by the abiding emotion of love—not youthful romantic love with its overwrought fevers and passions, but love of the quiet, everyday, persistent sort, among friends, within long partnerships, between humans and dogs—love of the kind that can grow almost invisible to us although it is foundational, essential, to our lives. Our Vanishing, in its profound compassion for all mortal creatures, makes such love visible again. Its poems are engaged not with themselves but with the world, working not through pyrotechnics, not through the ‘look at me’ of dazzle and shake, but rather through a precision so fine and absolute that the reader’s desire for anything more falls away. This is the more, the poems assert, and they are not only correct but also entirely, convincingly, heartbreakingly true."
—Katharine Coles

“With precise and surprising language, Frannie Lindsay has accomplished something very rare. The poems of Our Vanishing embody the music of Time: the joys, the loss, the passings—all the hard-won truths of living in this particular world. These are not poems that will try to change your life. These are poems that will live with you, will make you feel not so alone."
—Kevin Goodan

“Frannie Lindsay, in her radiant new collection, is a modern-day Simone Weil, feisty and courageous in her pleadings with God on behalf of the dying, the near dying, the destitute, and all the rest of us waywards. To talk to God in such a manner as Lindsay does takes guts and she knows it, ‘It is a sin talking this way to God,’ she writes. Such courage is born out of conviction, out of desperation. God is in this world, but not for all of us. To an eleven-year-old girl, Lindsay states, ‘and there is your gaze which God has yet/to enter.’ A female Saint Francis, Lindsay parades an astonishing procession of spirit guides throughout her collection: ‘eight racing dogs,’ ‘cider-bright foxes,’ ‘gray lambs,’ ‘squirrels,’ ‘barn cats,’ ‘therapy dogs,’ and ‘a skunk leading her glamorous darlings.’ Like all books tackling death, this collection is, in the end, not about death at all but about life: the incredible vibrancy of life and our fancy luck at being inside of it. This is a powerful collection from a greatly gifted, original voice."
—Cynthia Cruz


Mayweed"Lindsay steps safely across an abyss of blame, to arrive at an astonishing place beyond judgment…”
—Patrick Donnelly, author of The Charge
“This is Frannie Lindsay‘s book of praise, but the praise we find here is no simple matter. This book brims with stern clarities, rich emotional textures, and the beauty that Wallace Stevens said death was, ultimately, the mother of."
—Fred Marchant, author of The Looking House

Lamb“Frannie Lindsay‘s poetry finds its way through the dark night of the soul and just beyond, to that shimmering place of simply, starkly being.” — The Southeast Review
“The wounded children and animals, the wounded and sometimes wounding elders, can’t (perhaps) thank Frannie Lindsay for these beautiful and original poems, subtle, tender, and of the spirit — but we, her readers, thank her.” — Jean Valentine

“Frannie Lindsay’s Lamb is a sequence of startling perceptual and emotional epiphanies that begin in the dark folds of childhood but open in the end into what I can only call a state of grace. With deft understatement and zero self-pity, she interrogates the wounds of the past, and in so doing manages to transform personal history into a door through which she can pass into new insight, forgiveness, and healing. Stripped down to the hard bones of truth, these poems are adorned only by what’s absolutely essential.” — Chase Twichell

“Frannie Lindsay’s poems about abuse, trauma, and healing transcend their subjects. They are, instead, hymns of praise for the love we are able to wrest from our flawed lives. The delicacy of Lamb is like that of a ballet dancer — underlaid with great strength.” — Ellen Bass


Where she always was "It is impossible, reading her poems, not to hear a musical hand at work. This is not just a matter of delicacy or virtuosity. It is also a matter of knowing how to phrase a line. . . . Lindsay moves from detail to trope with utter poise, with an intuitive sense of what to sustain or emphasize. Her language is crisp. I can pick a stanza at random . . . and praise its plosive energy, its modulated vowels, its variety and élan. . . . Where She Always Was allows us . . . the rare gratification of watching a poet-wonderfully accomplished, quietly persuasive-look back on a lifetime‘s worth of emotions and calculate their bearing on the present. In her craft is the truth." — J. D. McClatchy

 

photo by Meg Birnbaum