Fan Mail from Some Flounder / Lisa Vihos

Original price was: $12.00.Current price is: $7.95.

In stock

poems by

Lisa Vihos

ISBN: 9781-59948-678-9,  ~ 56 pages, $12

Projected Release Date:  May 22, 2018


Lisa Vihos was born in Chicago in 1960. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals both print and online. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, this is her fourth chapbook. She is the poetry and arts editor of Stoneboat Literary Journal, the Shebogyan organizer for 100 Thousand Poets for Change, and an occasional guest blogger for the Best American Poetry. In 2016, she received Vassar’s Time-Out Grant for her project to build a children’s reading garden in Malawi, Africa. She is planning her next poetic undertakings from her dining room table, overlooking Lake Michigan in Sheboygan, WI.

As the title’s reference to The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show suggests, Lisa Vihos’s Fan Mail from Some Flounder is a very funny book, but it’s also a very wise and moving book, one that affirms life while acknowledging the inevitability of death, loss, and grief. After reading her fan letters to more than a dozen poets—from Shakespeare to Billy Collins—and to the world, you’ll want to write her a fan letter. —David Jauss, author of Improvising Rivers and You Are Not Here


In Lisa Vihos’s Fan Mail from Some Flounder, poems tumble over transoms. Requests are made to famous poets. Instructions are given. Using epistles, apostrophes, odes, pantoums, villanelles, menus, sonnets, and more, Vihos writes (and rewrites) a feast of love poems to books, authors, stories, and poetry. Some poems ventriloquize style, others sense or vision. But all will entrance with their verbal imagination, humorous observations, questions, and encouragement: “A poem/ will come./Give in./Give in.” –Susan Firer, The Transit of Venus


Such a delight and joy is Lisa Vihos’ new book, Fan Mail from Some Flounder. A comedy of the most serious kind, an intimate generosity that opens up space for the deepest meditations on our human predicament, while insisting on laughter and play. I kept thinking of the kind of love found in friendships, family, and the rituals of parties and games, those moments of hospitality which bind us as much as grieving and death. She reaches back through time to connect in the most casual and audacious, charmingly boundary-crossing way, to sit with dead poets and engage as if they were here now, on the porch, in the parlor, sitting at the kitchen table having a beer. As if to say, I see you and I’ll raise you in this game of life we all share, a marvelous act of equalizing. Vihos’ deftness with her craft, the language and image and wit pulls it all off seamlessly. You know how when you’re in the company of the best of friends and everyone is riffing off everyone else with such ease? How good it feels to be a part of the circle? That’s what this book read like to me, and that is no light-hearted thing. It is a real gift, to be in a community, known so well and with such openness.. She writes in “My beat, your beat, our shared refrain.” What a beautiful gift of poetic companionship. –Heather Derr-Smith

Dear Mark Strand


I am looking at your photograph
on the back of Selected Poems.
I love your beautiful face
and the fact that your left eye
squints more than the right one
when you smile. (Mine does too!)
Well, actually it’s my right eye
that squints more, but still,
we have one-eyed squinting
in common. And guess what?
I, too, eat poetry!
You studied painting at Yale
with Josef Albers.
I studied art history at Vassar
with Christine Havelock.
You write very nice poems, Mr. Strand,
and the three I have read so far
are all really good. I devoured them all alone
on the third floor of the library last Friday.
I put my head down on the dusty desk and wept
because I felt your presence so nearby.
I looked you up on Wikipedia.
You have a daughter. I have a son.
You got divorced one time,
as did I. Well, I will be divorced
by the time you ever read this, hopefully,
in The New Yorker or The Beloit Poetry Journal.
In my senior year of college (did I mention
I am a Vassar girl?), I won $100
from the American Academy of Poets
for my poem, The Death of the White Nymph,
inspired by my love of Sylvia Plath,
but I never heard anything more from them.
I am not listed on the website, not even in a footnote.
My emails to the Academy have produced
no useful information regarding my status.
You were elected to their board of chancellors
in 1996. Since we both narrow one eye when we smile,
do you think you could look into this for me?



Cloud Reader


Remember when you were small—
before you read words—
you taught yourself to read clouds?

You’d lie on your back
for hours and never tire
of the stories the clouds told.

There was the one about
the dragon who became
a three-legged elephant

and another about a thin, bearded man
who chased a fat lady so far across the sky
that they became a herd of buffalo

and then a fish who leaped to his last breath
from a pinky purple sea. You thought
you’d grow up to make a living at it—

reading clouds—not knowing
that cloud reading is a thankless task
left only to children and dreamers.

Good days those were,
when reading clouds
was your bread and butter.



What I Need Right Now

for Ann Waldman


I need a poem for tomorrow,
for tomorrow and tomorrow
and tomorrow after that.
I need a poem
that sounds like my voice
and sounds like your voice
and sounds like the voices
of everyone everywhere,
the cacophony of everyone
everywhere and the sound
of seagulls. Certainly,
you have heard that sound
of seagulls. You hear it
by any body of water,
you hear it by any body
before you see him soar.
Usually, the beach is empty,
the beach is empty
but for one woman
with a bag of dried bread
and the gulls soar and circle
and make that sound,
that sound that marks
the beginning and end
of every vacation,
of every vacation you have ever had.
A happy sound, a sad sound
depending on when you hear it
and which way you are headed
like this poem for tomorrow
headed nowhere other than
tomorrow and tomorrow
and tomorrow after that,
where I wake up
and find my voice
and find your voice
and find the voices
of everyone everywhere
and the seagulls that cry
stay don’t go
stay don’t go