Black Lawrence Press

Many Small Fires

Pencecw

Praise

  • "In this marvelous debut collection, Charlotte Pence provides us with all the pleasures of poetic tension. We have the pull of narrative and the flares of the lyric, the graceful rhythm of blank verse and the thrill of innovative forms, the contest for survival both between a father and a daughter and between Homo sapiens and other species within our genus. The poems explore the idea of survival, not only the survival of a speaker who transcends a precarious childhood but, for example, a 'juvenile male bear with his head stuck in a plastic Walmart candy jar' who 'learned to drink by laying down in shallow streams.' In language that is sometimes word-crunchy and dense, sometimes delightfully simple ('In her small life, she is happier than before'), Pence’s Many Small Fires is a beautiful, necessary book. Come, warm your hands."

    —Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Unmentionables
  • "In The Branches, the Axe, the Missing, Charlotte Pence goes beyond situating the personal within the contexts of science and history; she instead finely mortises the evolution of the human form with that of her own poetic form. This carefully shaped sequence reminds us that the 'sizzle-spit of fat striking flame' remains part cause, part sustenance—and is indivisible, finally, from 'that first word, that first word / that spiked a whole new species.'”

    —Claudia Emerson, author of the Pulitzer prize-winning collection Late Wife and Figure Studies
  • "...(A) delightful and disturbing read. A flurry of allusions, of histories, of personal disasters, all of it lightened with insight and a sly, sexy humor."

    —Arthur Smith, author of The Fortunate Era
  • "Fueled by fascination and fear, Pence explores ‘our history and our longer history.’ From the discovery of a new species to the origin of the species, many small fires connect Pence’s poems to the people we come from and the people we want to become, all our yesterdays and all our tomorrows. Fierce and tender, the poems in this book are both mysterious and wise, intensely lyric and full of story, but most importantly they are rich with wonder and fearlessness. They seek the unlikeliest places to solicit the darkest reaches of memory of the personal past and human past, knowing ‘The darkness quiets if we watch it together.'"

    —Traci Brimhall, author of Our Lady of the Ruins

Charlotte Pence

Charlotte Pence’s poetry merges the personal with the scientific. Her first book, Many Small Fires (Black Lawrence Press, 2015), received a Foreword Reviews' INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award. The book explores her father’s chronic homelessness while simultaneously detailing the physiological changes that enabled humans to form cities, communities, and households. Director of the Stokes Center for Creative Writing, she is also the author of two award-winning poetry chapbooks and the editor of The Poetics of American Song Lyrics (University Press of Mississippi, 2012). Pence is the recipient of awards and fellowships from the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Redden Fund, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Alvin H. Nielson Memorial Fund, the Discovered Voices Award, New Millennium Writing Award, and many others. New poems have recently been published in Epoch, Harvard Review, and The Southern Review.  

Pence Author page

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