Back-cover Blurbs for November Weather Spell:
The poems in House Bird drill deep beneath the surface of domestic life, finding the essential truth in the tension between what gets said and what goes unsaid, exploring the consequences of speaking and the consequences of remaining silent. Fillman reveals how vulnerable we are, even in our own bedrooms, basements, driveways. Like in the Hopper and Wyeth paintings that inspire some of his poems, he finds the mood between desire and loneliness, that feeling so profound and universal that we can only bow our heads in recognition. A remarkable debut by a promising young poet. –Jim Daniels, author of Gun/Shy
These are wonderful poems, full of memory and keen observation, alive to their fingertips. I don’t think I’ll ever forget “The Blue Hour,” for instance, with its image of the dead ‘swirling / from chimneys like hundreds of souls / lured by stars,’ and then that final image of ‘Katie Estan’s older sister,’ dead from meningitis, who returns to drift past the speaker’s ‘snow-shackled rooftop.’ Poem after poem in House Bird is beyond beautiful. This is a book to savor, to reread. A splendid poetic achievement. –Jay Parini, author of New and Collected Poems: 1975-2015
Fillman excavates what might seem ordinary to find radiance. In striking, fully articulated poems, he explores generational ties and the pains-taking wages of parenthood. These poems are clear-eyed, generous, and compassionate. As when Fillman writes movingly about blessing a house for its future inhabitants, in similar fashion, these poems offer their blessings to readers. –Lee Upton, author of Bottle the Bottles the Bottles the Bottles: Poems
cover photo by Jason Martin
Interviews about House Bird
Reviews of House Bird
Sugar House Review: Review of House Bird by Jennifer Judge (full-text)
Newpages: Down Right Poetry – Review of House Bird by Ron Mohring (full-text)
Pembroke Magazine: Review of House Bird by Aaron Cole (full-text)
Excerpt from The Hollins Critic: Review of House Bird by George Franklin
The poems in House Bird are full of stories about families and neighborhoods, settings with which we are familiar and that make us feel comfortable. Fillman is homesteading a specific poetic territory, the house and neighborhood as a kind of liminal space. On one side of the threshold is the life we imagine for ourselves, full of possibilities, and on the other side is death: not a romanticized death or even a dramatic one, but a cold, empty negation that could engulf us at any second. There, in between, is the house where we grew up or the one where we raise our own children, a house built on the edge of contingency. House Bird explores a space few poets know exists.
The title poem of the collection, “House Bird,” is centered in this threshold space. The image is from Andrew Wyeth’s Bird in the House, a bird that the “evening light dislodged” “from its perch, shot it straight through / an open window, stone-gray / stopped on the mantel,” But, “House Bird” also describes the poet. (“House bird” is an old-time expression for someone who stays around the house.) In this case, it is the poet who takes the house as the place where our real lives happen, lives we have to work to understand. The light from the window seems to offer the house bird a kind of protection up there on the mantel. The “Starling in the Furnace Room,” who arrives in a later poem in the book, is not so lucky:
I remember feathers flying,
a tiny heart that ceased to beat,
the afternoon suddenly dark,
trapped in iridescent silence.
Fillman shows us how close death is and how we build our lives in relation to it.
[from The Hollins Critic, Vol. LIX, No. 2, April 2022]