We Marry We Bury
We Sing or We Weep

Moonstone Press, Summer 2021

In We Marry We Bury We Sing or We Weep, Faith Paulsen’s voice is new, rich and profound. This is classic poetry and radical for it. And radiant: “Nobody loves a spring day the way a city does.” In her words, poetry is hermitage and springhouse with “a ghost orchid in our kitchen.” “We kept our eyes open / as we closed our eyes.” Faith Paulsen’s poems are strong, brave. Read her.

~Leonard Gontarek, Moonstone Chapbook Contest Judge, Author of Take Your Hand Out Of My Pocket, Shiva

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Cyanometer

Forthcoming from Finishing Line Press
October 21, 2021

Faith Paulsen vividly captures the intimacies, secrets, and sorrows between beloved family members and friends. In the midst of losses, wonder and compassion abound: a hummingbird is a “trick of the eye” that evokes the speaker's mother sipping tea as it “savor[s] rosewater” in a “call to prayer.”  In a meditation on a wondrous invention designed to measure every shade of sky, a voice urges, “Make my body an instrument to measure the blues.”  A mother who transforms her grown son’s bedroom into an office lingers in memory and longing until “Missing him / is the dervish bell she whirls in. / Missing him is its own language.”  Even as her poems lament “Losses [that] swim away / like minnow / as we try to count them,” Paulsen’s contemplative poems resonate deeply with love and the vibrancy of life.      

  

~Dilruba Ahmed, author of Bring Now the Angels

Opening with a pastoral awhirl in whooshing and lush specific detail, Cyanometer grounds readers firmly in the now and gives us poems of presence and attention. We move from now to past, from intimate family moments to times of historical import. A collection so seamlessly organized, I urge readers to read from beginning to end at least once—no skipping around.  Poem follows poem on a music-drenched journey from the present to the past and back, from a poignant moment of imagining the future minus a dying mother, to a childhood memory of watching that same mother pin up her hair with its scent of Breck shampoo. The choice to turn a grown son’s bedroom into an office becomes a haunting meditation on what it means to miss, or be missing, a study of absence that is its own kind of presence. In Ode to a Fossil, Paulsen brings us an outlook,/ layer on layer/on layer,/a deposition of sediment//mudstone, siltstone, redwall. This is the vista of Cyanometer—a deposition of layers of memory, observation, and, ultimately, well-earned wisdom.   

 

~Liz Abrams-Morley, author of Beholder

(Now available for pre-order only (Publication date October 21, 2021)

A Color Called Harvest

Finishing Line Press, 2016

In a world that can be cruel, Faith Paulsen’s chapbook, A Color Called Harvest, offers a reader a sense of safety and reassurance, in spite of loss.  Her poem, Au Revoir, begins: “It will be alright.”  At first blush, it is a simple statement and simple poem, but, as always in life, it is complicated by hope rubbing against what is real.  Paulsen will not surrender.  In her world, her loved one will surely “emerge/blinking into noonday light” from the “water-filled cave.”  This is not a saccharine book.  There are her “missing parts” and lines of her palm that reveal “two/weak” children.  But in the end, Paulsen is right about what matters, that is, “the practice/is love.” A Color of Harvest is luscious with mundane details mixing it up with imagination. 

 

~Amy Small-McKinney, author of Life is Perfect (2013, BookArts Press), Body of Surrender (2004) and Clear Moon, Frost (2009), both with Finishing Line Press

 

One of the things Faith Paulsen's poems do best is ask questions. In Wall Decor she writes, “Let me ask you—how do you feel about symmetry?” It's that kind of probing that makes Paulsen's poems such a pleasure. You can see in her careful arrangement of lyric metaphors and narrative vignettes that she welcomes the moment of discovery in poetry, and freely invites the reader to experience it with her. These poems are both personal and inclusive, challenging and accessible, sometimes painful, but always affirming. 

~Grant Clauser, author of Necessary Myths

Several poems in Faith Paulsen’s book, A Color Called Harvest, thoughtfully tackle the age-old dilemma of the good mother, namely, how to love one's child, encourage his or her growth and then entrust him to his own abilities and the universe's penchant to be both kind and cruel.  Invariably, the mother is left, as her child toddles away on the beach, to “wait here still/ still watching, biting my lip.”  Paulsen also demonstrates a masterful use of imagery in some of her nature-related poems in which she observes the world's most modest creatures, like the beautiful but dead bluejay, the “balloon-throated chorus frog,” the flat flounder which she compares to “a carpet with eyes wide open/{using both} to look up.” By the end of this chapbook, we find ourselves celebrating the skill and clarity with which the poet describes her inner and outer world. 

 

~Kathleen Sheeder Bonnano, author of Slamming Open the Door (Alice James)