Even as they consider the paradoxical properties of fire, its potential both for creativity and for destruction, the poems in this book burn with the intent to illuminate the objects of their contemplation. Open Fire conjures both the violent imperative of a firing squad, and the communal warmth radiating from a campfire. In persona and ekphrastic forms, Gorlin jimmies the lock of her identity to pull off daring acts of imaginative immersion and poetic ventriloquism as she adventures into the images of artists, and the lives of figures featured in the Bible, myth, literature, history, biography, fashion design, and current events. Imagine yourself as the apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Leda with a surprising assessment of the swan, the World War II photographer Lee Miller in Hitler’s bathtub, the British fashionista Isabella Blow, and even Death itself mourning over the Covid epidemic.
Alice B. Fogel
New Hampshire Poet Laureate (2012-2019)
Deborah Gorlin lusts after thingness—even as she knows that its eerie emptiness will disenchant in the end. A wizard of description . . . she focuses her raw wonder on the real . . . until it’s revealed as if new. Poem after poem, the elations and elegies of Gorlin’s language melt in your mouth like hard candies.
Deborah Gorlin is the author of two previous books of poetry, BODILY COURSE, White Pine Poetry Press Prize, 1997, and LIFE OF THE GARMENT, Bauhan Publishing, winner of the 2014 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize. She has published in a wide range of journals including Poetry, American Poetry Review, Bomb, New England Review, Prairie Schooner, and Best Spiritual Writing 2000. Recent and forthcoming poems appear in Plume, On the Seawall, the Ekphrastic Review, Mass Poetry, the Hard Work of Hope, The Common, and Rumors, Secrets & Lies. Her lyric essay, Jack of All Trades, was published as a finalist in Calyx magazine’s 2022 Margarita Donnelly Prize for Prose Writing. Emeritus co-director of the Writing Program at Hampshire College, she served for many years as a poetry editor at The Massachusetts Review.