Alice Fulton
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Coloratura On A Silence Found In Many Expressive Systems (W.W. Norton, 2022).

The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress

Bobbitt Prize Statement for Felt

“Full of animated, charged poems, Alice Fulton’s latest collection sizzles with logophilia and tropes, is blessed with the kind of direct wiring between sensation and language, feeling and form, that strikes first with physical and then with intellectual and emotional wallop. Hers is a poetic sensibility at once remarkably comprehensive and remarkably precise, and felt; her best book so far is possessed of great velocity, great staying-power.”
David Baker, Eamon Grennan, and Heather McHugh



Coloratura On A Silence Found In Many Expressive Systems

“I was living in a high-maintenance loneliness,” Alice Fulton writes of a devastating accident, and her poems express reverence and impatience as they search for a brightness palpable as the dark. The result is a coloratura on the senses, riffing on phantom aromas, spectral voices on the radio, and chimerical colors outside the spectrum. Extending these sensory mysteries to existential questions of invisible miracles and faith in the face of silence, Fulton offers a fervent prayer for gratitude and healing.

Praise for Coloratura On A Silence Found In Many Expressive Systems

Fulton is one of the wisest and most insightful poets in the country. The profundity of her verse sometimes comes through long explorations, sometimes in single lines. ‘To witness constant miracle is a distraction,' she writes. Let yourself be distracted by her.”

— Ron Charles
The Washington Post Book Club Newsletter,
September 30, 2022

“Joy and grief circle warily in this nimble collection from one of America’s marquee poets, who balances philosophical intensity with deft wordplay.”

—The New York Times

“…Sonic and imaginative range… the music of what is voice with what is silent … makes it almost impossible to talk about the powerful hold of these poems….Perhaps more than any poet writing today, Fulton takes to heart John Keats’s belief that writing poetry is a ‘vale of soul-making.’”

— Lisa Russ Spaar
On the Seawall

full text of review online at On the Seawall

“Fulton masterfully and lyrically levels with anguish... These layered, rich poems expand and test the possibilities of language….”

—Publishers Weekly

Interviews discussing Coloratura On A Silence Found In Many Expressive Systems

Isabelle Sakelaris, “Alice Fulton's Poetic Coloraturas,” full text of interview online at Interlocutor

Cynthia Hogue and Thomas Fink, “Exchange with Alice Fulton on ‘Salt Point Vesper,’” full text of exchange online at Dichtung Yammer


Barely Composed

W.W. Norton, February 2015

“One of three new collections that take readers on bold, unexpected journeys…. Barely Composed addresses trauma and loss through the literary equivalent of broken glass. The poems give voice to … enduring topics — time, death, love — with a mixture of elegance and agony. Several elegies capture the emptiness of night hours, the difficulty of truth-telling and the fleeting nature of time. All of this blossoms into a dark beauty that makes these poems glisten. ”

The Washington Post

Washington Post's "Best New Poetry of February"

Alice Fulton … can make you see the space between the stars. Fulton's poems give us access to those spaces between and beyond words, a wilderness where meaning awaits capture. There's beauty and terror to be found in such unmapped terrain, but Fulton sounds at home in the unknown, her music rising like wind whistling between all these ‘finite things.’ ”

The Boston Globe

In Barely Composed … there is the push-pull of Fulton's yearning for tranquility and her refusal to accept a 'limited truth value.' These are not 'protest' poems. … Rather, they confront how a nation's actions tar its citizens' lives, making them complicit. Fulton's poetry repeatedly enacts this … refusal to look away, or to let the reader look away. Her emotions checked, but never extinguished, she is a master of withering sarcasm: a mode of expression that emanates from no still or tranquil place. Fulton has an ascetic saint's sensibility.… One can imagine her in a cave, staring at a flame until she goes blind, in the name of whatever god will speak to her, if only it speaks true. ”

Open Letters Monthly

full text of review online at Open Letters Monthly


The American Academy of Arts and Letters,
Literature Award

"to honor exceptional accomplishment"

Alice Fulton has already been recognized as one of America's best poets, whose work combines lyrical sensuality and subtle wordplay. She is also a gifted and original author of fiction; her first novel, The Nightingales of Troy, is both beautifully written and a moving portrait of personal and family history. ”

Literature Award Committee


Review of Felt

Alice Fulton has for years been one of the nation's most eloquently cerebral poets, and in Felt she adds still another dimension to her enviably erudite poetics: a richness of sense and emotion that in 2001 heralded her strongest and most accessible single collection to date. Fulton's command of language, theory, rhetorical structure, and technique is so sure one little doubts one is in the presence of a Master. ”

Seth Abramson
The Huffington Post

full text of review online at huffingtonpost

(read all reviews of Felt)


The Nightingales of Troy

W.W. Norton, July 2008

“With The Nightingales of Troy: Stories of One Family’s Century, her outstanding first fiction collection, poet Alice Fulton reveals herself to be triumphantly at home in the short story. Spanning the 20th century — from a farm birth in 1908 to an MRI in 1999 — Fulton’s stories are sublime distillations, not only of the individual lives they so eloquently describe, but also of the eras throughout which the formidable Garrahan family endures.”

Anna Mundow
The Boston Globe

New & Recommended by The Boston Globe
A Discoveries feature by The Los Angeles Times
Featured Books interview by The Irish Times
Starred review by Kirkus Reviews
Starred review by Booklist
A Recommended Book by

Praised in The New York Times Book Review, The Seattle Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Winston-Salem Journal, and elsewhere.

Two stories from The Nightingales of Troy have been chosen for The Best American Short Stories, a third was selected for The Pushcart Prize Anthology.

Click here for photo gallery, the story behind the stories (author comment), and reading group guide.

(read all reviews and comments for The Nightingales of Troy)


Cascade Experiment: Selected Poems

W.W. Norton, 2004

“Alice Fulton is not a safe poet; she’s a daring, ambitious, and risk-taking one, and, as the magnificent pieces gathered together in Cascade Experiment so eloquently and scintillatingly demonstrate, she has been so throughout her lengthy and deservedly successful career. Time and again Fulton has proven herself willing, unlike so many of her contemporaries, to take chances in her work. Poetry as a whole would be much enlivened if poets everywhere could take a cue from her and engage in experimentation of their own.”

Kathleen Rooney
Harvard Review

(read all reviews of Cascade Experiment)



W.W. Norton, 2001
Awarded the 2002 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry from the Library of Congress

“In Alice Fulton’s poetry, those charged instances when the literal and the metaphysical (and the sensual and the philosophical) overlap are often mediated by wordplay — a pun, a double entendre, a witty turn of phrase. The title of her marvelous fifth collection, Felt, is meant to signify both an emotion once experienced [and] the fabric constructed by fibers that are forcibly pressed, rather than woven, together. In “Fair Use,” these two meanings fuse, so that felt represents the joyous and maddening experience of human interconnectedness — ‘a fabric of entanglement == / my consciousness felted with yours.’ ... Throughout these kinetically textured lyric poems — they have varied indentations and line lengths, and are aurally rich with slant rhymes and musical rhythms — the meanings of words shift, contort and refract (one point of creating art, as Fulton puts it, is ‘to / origami thought’). In the long poem ‘About Music for Bone and Membrane Instrument,’ written in a series of 13 sections, a Japanese fan metamorphoses into fan’s other usage — a devotee or admirer — as the loss of self shared by both a star performer and a swooning audience member is revealed. In poems obsessed with identity, yearning and intimacy, the power of Fulton’s verbal pyrotechnics is that they precisely animate these mutable, ever-changing states.”

Megan Harlan
The New York Times Book Review

(read all reviews of Felt)


Feeling as a Foreign Language: The Good Strangeness of Poetry

Graywolf, 1999

“In this feisty and original collection of essays, the poet Alice Fulton leads us into new ways of thinking about the nature of postmodern poetry, suggesting innovations in its elastic content and form that draw on mathematical, scientific and philosophical theory. She also scrutinizes the rich legacy of such diverse female poets as Margaret Cavendish and Emily Dickinson.

Fulton’s mood in these essays is consistently experimental and subversive.... Taking dead aim at some of mainstream literary America’s complacent assumptions about the postmodern poem, she advises replacing its flat, transparent surface with a rough-edged, multi-textured work in which the surface of language does not remain static but continually shifts. Boldly imagined ... [this is] a call for nothing less than a revolution in the language of both free verse and free verse criticism.

The jewel in this collection is ‘Her Moment of Brocade,’ the finest essay I have read on Emily Dickinson since Adrienne Rich’s ‘Vesuvius at Home’ ... Here, as elsewhere in the collection, Fulton brilliantly uses scientific and philosophic theory to interpret poetic phenomena.

Feeling as a Foreign Language is a book that satisfies as it provokes ... challenging complacency at every turn. It should attract not only readers of poetry but all readers who enjoy the vigor of bold, original thought.”

Rita Signorelli-Pappas
Women’s Review of Books

(read all reviews of Feeling as a Foreign Language)


Sensual Math

W.W. Norton, 1996

“In Sensual Math, Fulton combines in deliberately unsettling — and often deliciously funny — ways a multiplicity of styles, tones, and registers linked to various genres and diverse cultural contexts, so that the reader is kept constantly aware of the play of lanugage and never allowed to rest in the fiction of unmediated personal expression. The breaks between Fulton’s frequently enjambed lines generate puns or semantic ambiguities that further foreground the processes of language and interpretive choice....

Like the Language writers, Fulton approaches poetry as possessing larger intellectual powers and cultural responsibilites than personal expression, even though she remains comfortable, as they tend not to be, incorporating such expression into her writing....

Her inventive work, which stretches the linguistic, tonal, vocal, and emotional range of contemporary lyric, points ultimately to resources that lie between recognized categories, in liminal states, and at the cultural margins as offering hope for significant social and aesthetic change. Her double equal sign and other rejections of patriarchal binaries aim ... to counter the destructive othering that pervades all aspects of our lives....”

Lynn Keller
American Literature

(read all reviews of Sensual Math)


Powers Of Congress

Sarabande Books reissue, 2001
David R. Godine, 1990

“She is an ambitious, powerful poet.... Her themes — like those of her great exemplar, Dickinson — are the sacred and the profane. But instead of seeking to define the profane by the sacred, as Dickinson often can, Fulton says ... how about using the profane to point toward the sacred? In the masterful title poem, ‘Powers of Congress,’ she invites us to this paradox, detailing experiences of stress and force in the ironies of daily life.... There is a range of perspectives in her work and she deploys them well.... She is a thematic gambler of the best sort. Her poems are daring and broad.”

Eavan Boland
Partisan Review

(read all reviews of Powers Of Congress)



University of Illinois Press, 1986
Winner of the National Poetry Series 1985 and Society of Midland Authors Award 1985

“Fulton revels in her findings, in the artisan’s sense of the the term, and the poems in Palladium are prepossessing and formidable ... her work is remarkable for its flamboyant diction, the wide range and acute particularity and vibrant color of it.... Because of Fulton’s energy and passion for specificity, there is hardly a dead line. What most of these poems testify to so energetically is the power of ‘expansion’ — the movement from some kind of constriction to some kind of freedom.... In addition to meditations and the dramatic monologues and portraits, there are compressed lyrics ... all among the best things in this very impressive volume. Fulton’s second book augurs the arrival of an exceptional poet.”

Stephen Yenser
The Yale Review

(read all reviews of Pallaidum)


Dance Script With Electric Ballerina

University of Illinois Press reissue, 1996
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983
Winner of the Associated Writing Programs Award, 1982

“We are back in the real world, foolish, extraordinary, desirable; and articulated with poise, humour and adventure. Physical sensations are balanced against events, metaphor against recital, in a most effective way. All in all, I would situate Alice Fulton as a close verse equivalent to the new tough-and-tender realism in American fiction, many of its practitioners women, and many of them poets as well: Jayne Anne Phillips, Elizabeth Tallent, Raymond Carver, Denis Johnson. She has their loners, their freaks, their cruelty, their orientation towards low-life, and their unconventional elegance and articulateness.”

Michael Hofmann
PN Review, Manchester, UK

(read all reviews of Dance Script With Electric Ballerina)