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An Exaltation of Tongues by Paul Fisher

Paul Fisher

An Exaltation of Tongues

Paul Fisher was born and raised in Seattle where he currently lives with his wife, Linda, and where his grandfather, an immigrant from eastern Europe, settled in 1904. Because of economic necessity and a desire to broaden his horizons, Paul has lived and worked in more places around the country than he cares to think about. As a result, though he loves the Pacific Northwest, and its rugged landscapes haunt his dreams, his sense of place has expanded like space to include a multitude of universes.

The first member of his family to graduate from high school, let alone college, Paul earned a BA in Visual Arts, an MA in Arts and Education and, in 2005, an MFA in Poetry from New England College. In addition to teaching in and directing high school art programs for fifteen years, he has been employed as an environmental activist for Greenpeace, a llama wrangler on a ranch in the Columbia River Gorge, a chauffeur for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT, an armed bank guard, a department store detective, and as a manager in an assisted living facility. Being a poet, artist, husband, father, grandfather and dog-cat-and-baby sitter are among the many things he does out of love. An unrepentant lefthander, he prefers tapping keyboards to pushing pens.

Paul is the recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship in Poetry from the Oregon Arts Commission. His first Book, Rumors of Shore, won the 2009 Blue Light Book Award, and was published in 2010. His poems have appeared in journals, including The Antioch Review, Cave Wall, The Centrifugal Eye, Crab Creek Review, Cutthroat, The Ekphrastic Review, Naugatuck River Review, Nimrod, Pedestal, Sow’s Ear, Switched-on Gutenberg, and in the best-selling anthology, River of Earth and Sky: Poems for the 21st Century. Some of his visual art has been exhibited at the Lyme Art Association Gallery in Old Lyme, CT, the Craft Alliance Center for Art & Design in St. Louis, MO, and the Frye Art Museum in Seattle.

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Poem from An Exaltation of Tongues

Midnight in the Garden

In this as yet undreamed-of tale,
I am not bilingual. Half your dying
language proves enough.

But you might ask me
why I then wear sheaths of stars
around the pale blue teardrop
of my back-lit pearl?

So I argue for the other side,
swallow words, shed my tail.
I teach my golden tongue to fork
before it greets two perfect strangers
free to quarrel, even as we speak,

over who will gather, who will hunt,
and who will sow, hands black with ink,
the blood-dark maize and bulgur wheat
in this as yet un-costumed tale.