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Naming the Fires

Hanging Loose Press, 2016

Available at Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com


About Naming the Fires:

Patricia Traxler's award-winning fourth poetry collection takes its shape from her Pablo Neruda Award-winning sequence, "War: a Memoir," the eleven sections of which span the book and create a compelling narrative arc. The poems of Naming the Fires examine intimacy, faith and doubt, family, and the passage of time in a world riven by war, unrest, and violence, and driven by sexual, material, and spiritual craving, and a hunger for meaning.

"The world has changed at a startling pace since I began publishing poems in my twenties," Traxler says, "and yet there has never been a time I can remember since earliest childhood when it was at peace. At some point I needed to settle in and think about what those years had really meant. I chose the quiet of the American prairie--birthplace of my father and his father--for my coming to terms with life and time, reflecting on our torn world and the fragility of belief in such a world, on trust and broken trust, love, pleasure, friendship, isolation, and loss, as well as a reckoning with my own mistakes, my serious missteps. I realize everyone has regrets to contend with, but that doesn't lessen the sense of gravity and sadness at one's own failings. These poems took me through all of that, in the process examining the desires, fears, and vulnerabilities that are inevitably part of being alive in our world."

Naming the Fires is the winner of the 2019 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award in Poetry and was a nominee for the Paterson Poetry Prize and the Poetry Society of America's William Carlos Williams Award.


"In a heightened and memorable language Patricia Traxler's work performs the ecstasies and terrors of a life experience deeply lived and vigilantly observed.  Her skills and her wit are richly exhibited. During my re-readings of her collection, a Robert Frost phrase came to mind:  she has 'a lover's quarrel with the world.'  There is in Naming the Fires a brave performance of the confusions and joys on a long road to self-possession." --Steven Hind, Judge of the 2019 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award in Poetry

"Patricia Traxler holds us in the devastating thrill of freefall, half-past naming and this close to combustion. Her skill at balancing the tempting fixity of nouns and the reckless commotion of verbs is no less heart-rending than a principal ballerina's sustained pirouette; she leaves us spinning. It would seem that few poets move so beautifully between short pulsating thoughts and longer narrative ideas. In Traxler's hands we bloom, float, row, thaw, wake, pray, and burn. Somehow more held than holding. What a gift to rest in such a poet's practiced embrace."
--Joseph Braun, The Lune Literary Journal,

Praise for Patricia Traxler's Poetry:

“These poems strike a thrilling balance between personal disclosure and the rigors of writing.”
Publishers Weekly

“Gorgeous writing, and devastating... Patricia Traxler has done crucial work here: rigorous, faithful, tragic, hopeful, true.”
–Marie Howe, The Boston Review

Forbidden Words is an outstanding and enviable performance."
–Ted Kooser, The Laurel Review

Forbidden Words is an intelligent, careful work by a gifted and generous poet.”
–Karen Volkman, The Harvard Review