Welcome To

Buy Now

Lisa Fishman

Lisa Fishman lives in Chicago, where she teaches in the MFA and undergraduate poetry program of Columbia College, and in Southern Wisconsin where she has an organic farm. Previously, she lived in New York City and Salt Lake City, although she is a native of Michigan (Pontiac, metro-Detroit, Leelanau County).


“A shudder runs up my spine and the old awe steals over me as I read Lisa Fishman’s FLOWER CART, at once charmed and disconcerted by its cache of documents, its systems of control and divination—in the spirit of the daybook—its homespun regimes, its furtive games of chance. Suddenly it occurs to me that Fishman’s writing feels apocalyptic in its winnowing, its implacable gestures, like a messenger flashing the equals sign of disappearance and revelation. These poems walk so far inland that one arrives at a place where an oar might be mistaken for an auger, or a spade, glimpsed in the light of shipwreck.”

– Daniel Tiffany

“There is so much that happens in the little words.” Made true, in Lisa Fishman’s deeply original materia bouquet. Slippery and sonorous, seed for thought: FLOWER CART is a captivating book.”

– Carol Snow


Related Posts

Featured Book

Flower Cart

little words


You find a letter from an old lover. It is five years old. You find lists for groceries on the backs of faded receipts from Best Buy. Become aware of the daily and the small. Of the holes in everything, which aren’t really holes. But portals toward new meaning.

I met Lisa Fishman at AWP Denver in a dimly lit bar. She signed my copy of her book: to Erika, in a bar in Denver. I was drunk and debating on whether I should drop out of grad school (for the second time). Maybe it was all that wine. Maybe it was the high that comes from being in a room full of writers, poets, artists. So I ask her:  Lisa, do I stay or do I move to NYC? Her answer isn’t really of importance here. The asking is. She probably thought I was crazy but I didn’t care. Poets, to me, especially poets whose work has moved me, are oracles, shamans, holy-people. My best friend introduced me to her work while we both studied/suffered in North Carolina. I loved Dear, Read. I found more of her work online. R and I now live in different states. We Skype. We edit one another’s poetry. We email each other amazing poems we find on the internet and suggest new books to one another.

“Have you ordered Lisa Fishman’s new book yet?”


“You know you can pre-order it? I already pre-ordered it.”

I lagged. I was coming out of a very long seasonal slump. I was re-reading Creeley. I was re-reading Berger. Fact is — I was only re-reading. I didn’t want to gamble. You know that feeling — when reading becomes this nurturing escape. Very much a drug. Your favorite blanket when you were four and still sucked your thumb. It holds you during those moments when nothing really can. I only wanted home runs. I did not want to risk reading a book and hating it. Then R began sending me photos of the inside of Flower Cart. She would send me one page at a time. One page at a time. A wonderful tease. I became hooked to phrases:

I want to shoot the birds

            she sometimes thought

There is so much that happens

in the little words

I kept bugging her to send me more and then I finally ordered it. I received it in the mail on my way to the beach and read it on the car ride there. There is nothing better than that first read and the satisfaction of arriving to the end. Once there, one has a better feel for the author’s stride, their cadence. Then you go to the pages you have dog-eared and you re-read those. You read some out loud to your sister over the phone who lives states away. She doesn’t get poetry but you don’t care. You re-read it on the train on your way to work. You think why that word and not the other? And then you start feeling that feeling again. That I need to write right now feeling.  

I love this book for its intimacy. There are writers who form intimacy in very technical and clinical means. Crafted and contrived, the words tell us what to feel. What we are seeing. Our reactions have already been well carved out. Though well meaning, it never feels authentic.

Inside of the book, right at its center are two other books, unfinished and found. One was gifted to Fishman by another poet, Richard Meier. The other by Bridget Lowe. At first I did not understand the rationale behind these two small books, Trees I have Seen and Herald Square – Notebook. I’m not even sure I still do. I feel that they create a sense that the reader is looking over someone’s notes. A list of observations. A journal. We do not know much about the speaker. But here is this list. This grouping of words. Things have been filled out. Some are left blank.

November first

tapioca pudding

tower of London

darn the socks

doughnuts and coffee

I appreciate the space Fishman allows her readers. To breathe. In this room the reader creates connections between words. Personal and direct, these ties steer us in multiple directions.

if letters can house a word

then words are not made of letters but letters are made of words

a shape makes a letter            a body



alternatives / argument

Nothing is just one thing. One solitary article. The sparseness of the sentences, the vivid images, all create a sense of multiplicity. Unornamented, the words move beyond their existence as identifiers and towards one where they become unpinned from meaning. Hanging, perhaps, in how the eyes of the reader react to the written, I find a sense of freshness. A subversive and specific voice leads us inside. I keep coming back to fragments.

we have the sun on us and a sentence

I hope you do too.

You might also like

  • Buy Now
    The Granite Pail
    Lorine Niedecker
  • Buy Now
    The Last 4 Things
    Kate Greenstreet
  • Buy Now
    Leave the Room to Itself
    Graham W. Foust
  • Buy Now
    Bei Dao
  • Buy Now
    Rae Armantrout

Let your voice be heard

Subscribe to Comments RSS

1 Comment

  1. brian warfield said on 10/19/11 at 5:29 pm Reply

    if lisa fishman’s book is a flower cart, than the poems inside are not bouquets but assemblies of stamens, pistils, petals and photosynthesis. they are reconstituted confetti.


Leave a Comment