The Door Open to the Fire
Judith Vollmer is the author of four full-length books of poetry including, most recently, The Water Books, Autumn House Press 2012. Her previous books are Reactor, University of Wisconsin Press 2004, nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and featured in the Los Angeles Times Book Review; The Door Open to the Fire, awarded the 1997 Cleveland State University Poetry CenterPrize and finalist honors for the Paterson Prize; and Level Green, Brittingham Prize, Wisconsin 1990. Vollmer has received poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and residencies from The Corporation of Yaddo, the American Academy in Rome, the Centrum Foundation, and others. Her poems have appeared in Poetry International, Agni, The Women’ s Review of Books, Poet Lore, Cerise Press, Prairie Schooner, The Fourth River, The Great River Review, and many other journals and anthologies. Vollmer teaches in the undergraduate Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and in the Low Residency M.F.A. Program in Poetry & Poetry in Translation at Drew University.
“Vollmer is a city poet—and her city is Pittsburgh, blue collar, homely, well loved—who nonetheless lies under bushes and looks to see the colors of flowers in the dark. She is a poet of righteous rages and bad moods, hilarity and tender griefs. She can be rough or elegant. . . She has done for the city of Pittsburgh what William Carlos Williams sought to do for Paterson, what O’ Hara did for New York, and Baudelaire for Paris.” –Liz Rosenberg
“Judith Vollmer evokes the City in all its grit and fire and seaminess, its chains and enchantments, its dreams and rude awakenings. No one has written more movingly, more affectingly, about Pittsburgh; or, for that matter, about America, about the world. Whitmanesque in their plentitude, their open-eyed embraces, these poems are the grand gesture, the soaring meditation, the expansive observation, the real thing.” –Ronald Wallace
“Someone observed that what was remarkable about Gertrude Stein was not that she was ahead of her time, but that she managed to be so much of her time. The same could be said of Judith Vollmer’s remarkable new book, The Door Open to the Fire. The subject—the obsession—of this book is place; the particular focus of both its rage and its love is the American city. What is amazing is the book’s exemplary originality. The Door Open to the Fire is a book about the city as an idea, about the city as a body. The writing is stern and gorgeous, wry and mournful.” –Lynn Emanuel
“Vollmer’s embrace is so wide, her enthusiasm for participation in the streaming variations of life so evident, that these poems sweep us up in their energies, their flesh-and-blood longings, their deeply human sense of helplessness and hope. This is a citizen’s testament, as passionate and complicated as a great city demands.” –Mark Doty
Cleveland State University Poetry Center
Vollmer, Judith, "The Door Open to the Fire" (1998). CSU Poetry Center Books. 88.