What Thread?

Awarded the David Martinson–Meadowhawk Prize in Poetry

(Red Dragonfly Press, 2015)
$16 | ISBN: 987-1-937693-79-4

Without naming a specific loss, the poet invites her readers to participate in the shared experience of loss. From the labyrinths of ancient times to the kōans of Buddhist practice to the northern landscape in which she lives, these dazzling poems move back and forth from private elegy toward quest and question, offering breadth and resonance to a journey no one is spared.

“Francine Sterle eloquently navigates the sacred space of absence; through a maze of darkness we are led by her vocation of light.”

–Scott King, Publisher, Red Dragonfly Press

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Nude in Winter

(Tupelo Press, 2006)

$16.95 | ISBN: 978-1-932195-33-0

These poems pick up where the artist’s brush stops. They delve into the intertwined lives of artists and their work, giving us in urgent, provocative language the powerful dynamic between desire and disturbance. Here we find a way of speaking about artists and images that seduces us into the canvas.

Sterle’s own canvas stretches from the tormented self-portraits of Toulouse-Lautrec and Egon Schiele to the idealized depictions of Sassaferrato’s Madonna and Man Ray; from Kahlo to Kollwitz, O’Keeffe to de Kooning. Nude in Winter is as varied as the kaleidoscope of visual art from which the poet draws. She succeeds in sculpting words out of images that are both bracing and disturbing. Her language is as penetrating as it is riveting. Nude in Winter is poised at the threshold between seer and seen, and moves from the dark corners of experience to the sensual light of renewal. With an uncompromising gaze, the poet takes us on a startling journey into the realm of the tortured and the adored.

“The poetry of Francine Sterle is as memorable as it is unique, as superbly crafted as it is lyrical. “Nude In Winter” will prove to be a welcome introduction to one of the most distinctive voices in American poetry today. ‘The Uncertainty of the Poet: Giorgio de Chirico”: Near the dark arches of the arcade,/a headless, plaster torso of a woman./By her dimpled hip, two dozen/green and yellow bruised bananas.//Off in the distance,/a train with its ample banner of steam/speeds left into oblivion. Menacing,/monumental shadows master what we see./Wait: the wish of reason is revered./The poet aims her words at what’s unworded,/startled by the horizon’s vaporous wall.”

–Margaret Lane, Midwest Book Review


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Every Bird is One Bird

(Editor’s Prize, Tupelo Press, 2001)

$13.95 | ISBN: 0-9710310-1-0

These clear, memorable, passionate poems explore the intricate relationship that exists between untamed nature––the world we watch––and inwardness––the world we sense. Against the backdrop of the natural world in all its beauty and wildness, Sterle writes about love in its many variations, about the search for hope and spiritual meaning, about grief and mortality, about survival and transformation. When she looks at the world, what resonates is the sensual, the savage, the redemptive. As these poems break down the boundary between inner and outer, they remind us that we are all irrevocably linked to the wider world of being and that by penetrating the complexities of ordinary life, we discover the extraordinary.


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The White Bridge

(Poetry Harbor, 1999)

$5.95 | ISBN: 1-886895-17-1

“A comet whose fading tail is “luminous as fishline,” a flower that rises out of the stubborn ‘green thumbs of weeds,’ a woman who is miraculously transformed into the ghostly body of an owl. There is much magic and sensuality at work in the deeply felt, beautifully realized. . . . With grace and clarity, she sifts through the ‘unsorted material’ of our daily lives to reveal what is truly essential, ‘what doesn’t get erased,’ that solid, hard-won ground beneath us all. Possessing a subtlety of mind and an implacable heart, Sterle takes us on a journey through the worlds of memory and desire, dream and reality, and in the process shows us,in poems full of compassion and lyric conviction, the sure and ‘intricate dance home.’”

––Robert Hedin

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