AIR-BREATHING LIFE by Abigail Warren

In this collection of poetry, Abigail Warren “[gives] insight into the magnitude of daily life and the search for deeper understanding.” Warren is a widely-published poet and the recipient of Smith’s Rosemary Thomas Poetry Prize.


Air-Breathing Life is a not only a field guide to the house sparrow, blue morpho butterfly, and salmon, but also to grief, Catholicism, redemption, and a search for meaning. As Ellen Bass says, the poems are “rich with the natural world—salmon, locusts, summer corn, periwinkles—and humans with their suffering and their absurdity, like the mother who, as she’s dying, sends the daughter to the store for 50 cents off the tissue paper. Often Warren’s poems reveal the ways in which all beings are surprisingly alike, as in the wonderful title poem, “Air-breathing Life”—a description of sleeping with a new lover who twists, flaps and slaps his tail like a hooked fish while the poet slides an arm in his fin and waits while you adjust/to this air, this life/of yours with me. These are insightful, well-made poems that show us truths about ourselves and the multitude of life around us.”


Abigail Warren’s poems exist in unquiet liminal zones, with their characters—winged, scaled, us—flailing to find bearings and living out fiercely yet tenderly their brief lives and relationships. This lends the poems an urgency and an active stance which keeps the reader fully engaged. And we, too, plunge into these poems, into being changed by them, as the hooked-fish lover gasps at new and unfamiliar air in the opening poem, or the narrator is beaten by divine waves in the closing piece. It does us good to breathe these poems in, deeply, to inhale their “strange new element.” Warren’s work is at once inviting and challenging, and it is always transformative.” —Rebecca Hart Olander, Director, Perugia Press

With economy of words and intimate style, a vivid range of emotions are exposed and explored in Abigail Warren’s collection, Air-breathing Life, giving insight into the magnitude of daily life and the search for deeper understanding. —S. G. Tyler 



Abigail Warren lives in Northampton, Massachusetts and teaches at Cambridge College. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in print and on-line, in Tin House Reels, The Delmarva Review, Pearl, Brink Magazine, Sanskrit, Emerson Review, Hawai’i Pacific Review, The Clarion, Bluestem, among others. She was a recipient of the Rosemary Thomas Poetry Prize while at Smith College.