Category: Books

How We Met

“. . . .language that is somehow self-deprecating and wise, hilarious and heartbreaking, assured but always searching, razor-specific and, ultimately, universally resonant. I’m awed by this book.”

~ Carlos Andres Gomez

Poems from HOW WE MET

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Praise for HOW WE MET

How to speak of a style so fresh, so quietly exhilarating, such delicacy, such buoyancy of spirit, so dazzling in metaphor (“when I met her I was a housesitter in my own body,” “when we talked, words leaped out of my mouth / like an animal released into the wild … “)-such pellucid insight into the enthrallment and failures of intimacy. Schireson’s is a style so adept with wit and invention, it defies gravity, and yet follows the transit of Venus: “the long line we bent/ into a circle / to stand in / together.”

 ~ Eleanor Wilner, author of Before Our Eyes: New and Selected Poems

Peter Schireson’s How We Met is an enthralling and uncompromising meditation on love. Wrought through imagery as precise as it is potent, these poems transport the reader deep into the flawed human yearnings of falling in, out of, and through love. I exited this book different than I entered, as though the poems had woven their wisdom and experience into me through the reading. Perhaps the greatest gift of this masterful collection though is its ability to create a language for the kinds of joys and griefs love yields that seem uncapturable in words. And yet, Schireson does it deftly through language that is somehow self-deprecating and wise, hilarious and heartbreaking, assured but always searching, razor-specific and, ultimately, universally resonant. I’m awed by this book.

Carlos Andres Gomez, author of Fractures

These spare and precise poems record a speaker’s encounter with, and loss of, a luminous Beloved who is “part pitbull / and part pitbull,” a Beloved so powerful she “quotes the sky directly.” The light of her presence suffuses the everyday, the black hole of her absence pulls his world over an event horizon, “her gravity so strong / I can’t escape it.” Like a Zen calligrapher (with a sense of humor), Schireson–with brushstrokes that appear deceptively simple and effortless-limns this baffling, transformational, and searingly recognizable encounter with love.

~ Elizabeth T. Gray, author of Salient

Sword of Glass

“Schireson hits all the notes in this textured, intelligent, deeply compelling collection.” ~ Martha Rhodes



Order from Broadstone Books


I love Peter Schireson’s book of poems, Sword of Glass.  These poems manage to seem finely wrought and improvised, madcap and solemn, down to earth and mystical, a perfect blend of Mel Brooks and Rumi. This is work to live with, brood about, and learn by heart. I love this book.

 ~ Alan Shapiro, author of over ten poetry collections, including Life Pig and Reel to Reel

Here is the poet on the page as naturally as a man in the shower.  He has brought the experience of a whole life with him.  He is not ashamed to love women, children and family. Neither does he flinch to write of death or loss or crime, but even the saddest Peter Schireson poem is an occasion for delectation, relish. He has written, “Together, we would change the world / one warm French potato salad at a time.” He has written “Aunt Jennifer’s Painting of Uncle Marsh Playing Tennis with Satan.” It is all here, the laughter, the tears, and the dream of the one great soul, rendered with exacting craft and tenderness. Sword of Glass is a marvelous book.

Rodney Jones, author of many books of poetry including Salvation Blues: One Hundred Poems, 1985–2005 and Elegy for the Southern Drawl

The power of Peter Schireson’s book lies in his ability to dig with a shovel where he stands and to throw same shovel far, far away, digging where it lands. In other words, these poems work on multiple levels—they are at once deeply personal, and contemporary, aware of the world around the speaker. The poems of this collection are both shattering and darkly humorous. Schireson hits all the notes in this textured, intelligent, deeply compelling collection.

~ Martha Rhodes, author of five collections of poetry, including
The Thin Wall and The Beds

Peter Schireson’s beautiful poems—full of wit, loyal to the potential for late-life erotics, drawn to stare the most terrible facts in the face—startle the reader into the awakeness, and even hilarity, that results when  an essential strangeness is revealed inside the supposedly ordinary. As Schireson’s poems progress a sudden ignition takes place, a kind of creative furor, in which the veil of illusions is torn and one looks directly at a luminous truth. Sword of Glass is that—a magnificent furor.

Patrick Donnelly, author of Little-Known OperasNocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin, and The Charge

Peter Schireson is a poet of surprise, waving a hand, enlarging the frame to include a man combing his hair as he slips between the comb’s teeth.

Not a poetic top hat or wand in sight, but melancholy leaks off the page, duplicating the scent of my high- school homeroom. Did we both date the same forlorn girl? Each poem is like an exploding piñata, scattering golden M&Ms, the shadows of moths, and secrets into the empty vases, the pencil holders, the steaming coffee on my desk. Something plunks into a clear fishbowl, suddenly unfurling into brilliant paper peonies and dahlias. How does he do that? He might just be a magician.

~ Peter Coyote, author of Sleeping Where I Fall and Zen Priest, Soto lineage of Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi

The Salt

“Curious, smart, tender, sly, funny, and modest, Schireson’s is a fresh and very welcome voice. I love these poems. ” ~Chase Twichell


Poems from THE SALT

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Praise for THE SALT

Peter Schireson’s poems are constructed in ringing clarity. They also have the feeling of fable: they seem full of reality, but appear slightly larger-than-life, and more permanent than merely anecdotal. Whether he’s writing about the after-effects of happenstance street encounters or the after-effects of eating enchiladas, about the power relations inherent in mosquito bites or about Miley Cyrus’ tongue or a vase of spilled violets, Schireson’s poems are witty, tender and a little tough. His voice in The Salt is always intelligently cheerful, gracefully serious–seriously graceful.

–Daisy Fried

Peter Schireson is a master of practical mystique, an honest investigator of what is and what might be, who reveals again and again, the sweetness of existence: in a photo of Miley Cyrus, in a restaurant over a big plate of enchiladas, even in a footnote. He is a poet of wonder, delight, and discovery; funny and serious, open and grounded. In The Salt, he has written a book that both focuses and sustains me.

-Rodney Jones

Once in a while, a poet appears who know all the tricks but doesn’t use them. Peter Schireson’s poems steer clear of inessential decoration, and move directly toward each center of gravity, which is often a single moment of subtle but piercing insight. Curious, smart, tender, sly, funny, and modest, Schireson’s is a fresh and very welcome voice. I love these poems.

Chase Twichell

Zen Bridge: The Zen Teachings of Keido Fukushima

Edited with Grace Schireson. Forward by Barbara Ruch.


Zen Bridge collects Dharma talks given by the Zen master Keido Fukushima Roshi. Fukushima Roshi’s anecdotes on his own training are humble, hilarious, and full of wisdom. His reflections on classical teachings intermingle with personal stories, allowing them to be accessible to all readers while at the same time transcendent. The power and authenticity of this true Zen master shines through in his words.

This book includes black and white illustrations of basic sitting and hand posture for meditation as well as selections of Fukushima Roshi’s calligraphy.

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Quotes from Keido Fukushima in ZEN BRIDGE

“After living this life to its fullest, the moment death arrives, we can die to its fullest. This is what Zen teaches about being human.”

“A Zen master must be a master. It won’t do if he’s not a good, full human being.”

“In both Japan and America, people have misunderstood Zen as something mystical, but this is untrue. There are no secrets in Zen. Zen dislikes secrets because Zen is here, now, I myself, so there’s nothing to be hidden.”

Praise for ZEN BRIDGE

Keido Fukushima is one of the signal Rinzai masters of our times. Within this wonderful anthology of his teachings, we can feel the twinkle in his eye and the constant pointing to the deep in a way rarely as inviting as we find here.

~ James Ishmael Ford, author of If You’re Lucky, Your Heart Will Break

Zen Bridge brings Keido Fukushima back to us, talking to us. His words light up the path to that place in the Zen mind where for all of us, as he made clear, “Every day is a good day.”

~ Barbara Ruch, Professor Emerita of Japanese Literature and Culture at Columbia University.

Reading Zen Bridge is like having Fukushima Roshi himself in front of you, right here and right now, with all his warmth, humor, and wisdom.

~ Stephen Addiss, author of The Art of Zen

Delightful! Keido Fukushima is a wonderful Japanese Zen master, full of humor, short and tall tales, and easygoing words that evoke deep truths. You will cross Zen Bridge with pleasure.

~ Zoketsu Norman Fischer, author of Training in Compassion

What Worlds and Moons


“Each poem makes a turn (or several) into adroitly managed surprise.”
~Peter Coyote


Order from Prolific Press


“In the title poem, ‘What Worlds and Moons,’ the speaker wonders, (á la Borges) ‘Is everything still possible?’ In such spirit of inquiry, we are transported through this slim, elegant volume of speculation and wonders. It is a pleasure to read Peter Schireson’s wry, wise, and tender words for its questions a well as its enigmas.”

~ Karen Brennan, author of little dark

“Schireson should dress in a magician’s top hat. Apparently transparent, beginning on familiar ground, each poem makes an unseen turn (or several) into adroitly managed surprise. His poems are like beginning a journey in Hoboken to arrive at a liaison with Frida Kahlo in Oaxaca.

~ Peter Coyote, author, actor, Zen Priest

The Welter of Me & You

“…an exciting debut.” ~James Arthur



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Order from Autumn House Press


“Schireson is an imaginative, humane observer of reality. In these poems he describes women in old movies “wearing hats as big / as braising pans,” and sparrows standing on a window ledge with such poise, they remind him of ballerinas at the barre. Schireson’s poems are tender, and often funny. But above all, they are full of honest intelligence. This is an exciting debut.”

~James Arthur

“Peter Schireson writes wry, wise, complex poems about the joyful impossibility of relationship. How we can be intimate and unknown to each other at the same time – and that the two may depend on each other. These precise poems thrill with generosity and appreciation.”
~ Norman Fischer

Before the Sun

“. . . .as always, Schireson brings us into the heart of his contemplative poetry with wit, imagination, and warmth..”

~ James Arthur

Read poems from BEFORE THE SUN



The reader of Schireson’s newest collection is invited to walks around the neighborhood, walks around the heart, dream walks, and mind walks. Before the Sun explores the exterior and interior world of the speaker whose observant ego is at once sharp and amazed if somewhat alarmed by what’s being observed as in this passage: “Last night, dreams filled with trees,/the trees full of crows./ /The house draws into itself.II am mesmerized by my metabolism.// /Life through a microscope./ !We need to move.” Schireson’s spare poems are packed with images and figures that broadcast news of the world-public and private. Sharp, clear-eyed, dry-humored, and often glib, these are masterfully crafted lyrics. “Middle of another night,/my mind colonized by the evening’s headlines./It seems like the world is losing all its tenderness.”

 ~ Martha Rhodes

What a pleasure to have another collection by Peter Schireson! These intimate poems tell the story of the author’s move from New York City to southern California. Before the Sun is about mortality, among other things: the austere landscape of the Sonoran Desert leads Schireson to serious questions about what one human life means against the enormity of history and the natural world. But as always, Schireson brings us into the heart of his contemplative poetry with wit, imagination, and warmth.

James Arthur, author of The Suicide’s Son

This chapbook masquerades as a genteel gesture of retirement, but Peter Schireson can remove one tooth from a comb and in that miniscule space pirouette nimbly between moods, meditations, and modes of perception as if Houdini were newly reborn as a ballerina. He gives the game away when he admits to being “suspended between the soft witchery of words and the rough skin of the world.” Even his glance can make me laugh, and more than once, I’ve stopped dumbfounded at a poem’s end, as when his mother mourns the death of two girls at Sobibor and the luck that led her and not them from the Holocaust.

~ Peter Coyote, author, Zen Priest