The Book

About Fierce Aria


I find it to be a fierce task to be a human being, particularly as an artist and deeply-feeling person with an active spiritual life. To grapple with the horrors that humanity inflicts on one another and the planet, juxtaposed against the awe-inspiring beauty and wonder of nature and art, is extremely challenging.

There is this lyric beauty in nature, in our souls, in our hearts, in art, in the Mystery, that sustains me, in spires me and that I seek to bring forth in my work. And there are profoundly troubling questions that I have to keep asking. To wrestle with philosophical questions about why things are the way they are and how we can live well amidst the paradoxes is a life-long artistic quest for me.

When someone at a reading once asked me why we should write poetry, I responded, “To tell the truth, but in a beautiful way, so that we can bear it.” Beauty and truth must duke it out together in order for a depth and richness to come forth.

These two, the fierceness and the beauty wrestle with one another in this book. I wanted to hold them up to the light to give people courage, inspiration, hope, a sense of not being alone. I wanted to make a thing of beauty and truth, to make the invisible visible, to give voice to the unsayable, and to speak eloquently for those who struggle to find the worlds for their feelings and experiences. I want to wake people up to greater aliveness. I believe poems can do this in an extraordinary way, casting a magical spell with worlds that awakens feelings, memories, imagination, sensations and calls us to greater being.

I have always found the invisible and imaginal worlds—the worlds of emotions, spirits and imagination—to be vividly alive for me, even more than the apparent physical world. So, I have had a driving need to capture that ineffable wonder and strangeness on the page in some way, while also honoring the physical world. These things aren’t, in fact, separate. I have been called a poet of praise more than once, and I consider that a great honor. I have also been called a radical.

These paradoxes are what Fierce Aria is all about.

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“I have learned to walk in the valley of my fears and losses,” writes Maxima Kahn, and the evidence of what she has learned all over these amazing poems. Fierce Aria is a book with a post-Wallace Stevens mission: to coax the still perfection of ideas out of the abstract realm, so they can take shape in the messy wilderness of reality. Distinctive, honed, vulnerable, musical, courageous, honest, Maxima Kahn’s poems are fully ripened, fully considered—each one ready to drop richly into the hand like a subtly contoured fruit. Taste them.

– Annie Finch, author of Spells: New and Selected Poems

“The book is a song dedicated to poetry and to life itself; at times slow and others fast, Kahn’s words grasp the reader from the start and do not let go until its final note.…Fierce Aria is an incredible work of art that I encourage anyone to pick up and read. It is certainly something I will be reading more than once.

– Hannah Rousselot

“In her first full-length collection, Fierce Aria, Maxima Kahn traverses rarified air, an anarchist wrapped in the lyrical spirituality of Rumi.
Each of these poems is both a prayer and a call to arms, seamlessly crossing the barriers of concrete reality and dizzying imagination. Maxima clearly obsesses over every word and phrase; artistry that anchors us into each imagistic line, while allowing the reader to vicariously live her life of intense introspect and wondrous landscapes.”

– Indigo Moor, author of Everybody’s Jonesin’ for Something