Angel Fire: Poems by Joyce Carol Oates
Louisiana State University Press (hardback), 2015
62 Pages

Author Website

Amazon (UK)


What’s It’s About
In this third collection of poetry, Joyce Carol Oates offers her readers another experience of her uniquely personal – and therefore universal – vision. The poems vary in subject from nightmares and city graveyards to ‘domestic miracles’ and the family, but each of them is controlled by a sense of human struggle.

But Angel Fire is not merely a collection of poems. In terms of emotional and then mystical experience, it is a kind of lyric novella, in which poems are arranged to dramatize the evolution of a mind. Thus, the ‘struggle’ gives way to the vision that there is no real struggle, only confused perception, and the concluding poems become revelations.

Lover’s Bodies
in every American city
the profane heavy heat
of someone’s affection –
radios in automobiles speeding
narrowly in the street.

What I Thought
I thought Angel Fire was a very enjoyable collection of poems.

JCO’s poems tend to be brilliant, like tiny little versions of her short stories and novels. This is a poet who knows exactly what a poem should do and now to make every word and the spaces between words count. Angel Fire is a great example of her skill.

In page after page, I fell in love with every word and every image. JCO knows how to bring words, feelings and images to life. As poet myself, I always feel totally intimidated when I read any of JCO poems because she’s the kind of poet, hell the kind of writer most of us can never hope to be. I’m glad such poems offered in Angel Fire exist and I have the privilege of reading them.

Angel Fire is a fantastic example of JCO at her poetic best.

Poems included:

  • Lover’s Bodies
  • The Small Still Voice Behind The Great Romances
  • Contrary Motions
  • At This Moment
  • Where The Wind Went Crazy
  • Dancer
  • At Our Fingers’ Tips There Are Small Faces
  • A Woman’s Song
  • Structures
  • Hate
  • Insomnia
  • Bloodstains
  • Unpronouncing The Names
  • Several Embraces
  • Making An End
  • Where The Shadow Is Darker
  • Domestic Miracles
  • Our Common Past
  • A Young Wife
  • A City Graveyard
  • A Secular Morning
  • Leaving The Mountains
  • Mile-High Monday
  • Angel Fire
  • Firing A Field
  • A Midwestern Monday
  • Children Not Kept At Home
  • What We Fear From Dreams & Waking
  • Acceleration Near The Point Of Impact
  • Family
  • How I Became Fiction
  • Things Happen To Us
  • The Nightmare
  • Entering The Desert
  • Mouth
  • The Secret Sweetness Of Nightmares
  • Becoming Garbage
  • Prophecies
  • Southern Swamp
  • Elegy Of The Letter “I”
  • City Of Locks
  • Revelations In Small Sunbaked Squares
  • Iris Into Eye




One Comment Add yours

  1. I love Joyce Carol Oates fiction – yet have never read any of her poetry! Definitely something to check out.

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