Miriam Bird Greenberg

Miriam Bird Greenberg (Poetry) | San Francisco, CA

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Miriam Bird Greenberg is the recipient of fellowships from the NEA, the Poetry Foundation, and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, as well as the author, most recently, of In the Volcano’s Mouth, which won the 2015 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where for many years she collaboratively developed site-specific performances for very small audiences. Miriam teaches creative writing and ESL, though she’s also crossed the continent aboard freight trains, as a hitchhiker, and by bicycle. The daughter of a New York Jew and a goat-raising anthropologist involved in the back-to-the-land movement, she grew up on an organic farm in rural Texas. She is currently researching asylum seekers and economic migrants living in Hong Kong’s Chungking Mansions for an ethnographically derived poetry project.


In the Volcano’s Mouth (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016). Agnes  Lynch Starrett Prize, Poetry.


Blurbs, Press & Reviews

“These poems do what the best poetry sometimes does: reveal and deepen our understanding of the strangeness in the ordinary. And do so in language clear as a bell.”
—Ed Ochester, Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize judge

In the Volcano’s Mouth is rich with mysterious and heartrending images. Miriam Bird Greenberg blends scraps of the harshness of life, of what would be ugly in less skillful hands, with the beautiful, even beatific. These are poems that are acutely aware of the world: The flame / of a match that flares / at the tip of his cigarette / before he draws in his breath /d eepens the darkness / that falls just beyond / his illuminated face. Paul Eluard wrote, ‘There is another world and it is in this one.’ These poems give us a glimpse into that world. They are poems I will come back to for inspiration.”
—Ellen Bass

“Although many of the poems in this haunted book are ‘pastoral’ in a classical sense, the natural world is not a place of peace and serenity. Rather, it’s unstable, not a setting devoid of meaning, but a realm where meaning is always on the move, like the many characters wandering through this book, and the mind of the poet who has carefully made this book. These villagers aren’t solemnly strolling around the edge of Keats’s urn. The wandering here cannot find its larger purpose, a dilemma not uncommon in our age. I sense a twenty-first century Exodus, and a people going nowhere they know and nowhere they want to be long.”
—Maurice Manning

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