Catalog-Fiset, Joan

Namesake by Joan Fiset

“The suspense of childhood, the hypnotized waiting for an exit from it and its moody gods the parents, the indenture of it, along with its bliss: Joan Fiset fits marvels of doubt and ecstasy into a paragraph. The mother's story here, blurred in the eye of a child already a poet, is a masterpiece...

Namesake is one of the most vivid and moving memoirs I have ever read.”   

Valerie Trueblood  Search Party

Namesake cover


ISBN: 9780911287755


153 pages

"Namesake feels like a fine-tuned watch, as time flows through this rewarding, tempered narrative. The prose poems—the pieces—are like lyrical snapshots of a larger world held together by silences. This memoir also shows how less is more. An example is the poem, “Wonder Bread”: “Soft in white plastic. Red, blue, yellow balloons. White bread. Brown crust. Fresh/but not like food. Fresh as a lie you swallow.” The twenty-three words expand. And the photographs in Namesake underscore how small moments, through language and images, can grow into an engaging register of feelings."

Yusef Komunyakaa  


“This moving chronicle portrays a daughter’s profound ‘re-collections’ of her mother in staccato-like scenes, each building upon the next. Poetic phrases erupt without warning from descriptive prose, where her mother is just beneath the surface, never far from the text. The child’s mind’s-eye is keen and curious. Moments of warmth between mother and daughter intersperse with the first hints of danger, fracture, and loss. The adolescent watches helplessly as her mother slides into terrors and inner torments skillfully rendered by the narrator. Subtle use of the spoken, unspoken, and ambiguous evoke feelings words often fail to express. Yet here the poet has found a way.”

Kenneth Kimmel Jungian Psychoanalyst Eros and the Shattering Gaze—Transcending Narcissism


Joan Fiset is a therapist in private practice and teaches writing courses at Richard Hugo House. Her book of memoir prose poems, Now the Day is Over, (Blue Begonia 1997) won the King County Publication Award. Her poems and short fiction appear in Trickhouse, Tarpaulin Skythe Seattle ReviewKirkus Review, BlazeVox and others. website: 


White wall. A wedge of light.
He whispers, It’s Little Sunbeam’s Sister.
She hovers overhead; somewhere,
nowhere and unseen.

Little Sunbeam’s Sister

King County Arts Commission Book Award, Selected by Rebecca Brown

“At the center of Joan Fiset’s exquisitely written memoir is a heartbreaking family secret the child knows but must not tell out loud. I read Now The Day Is Over in one fell swoop. Hypnotic, controlled yet wildly imaginative, it is one of the most disturbing and beautiful accounts of childhood I’ve ever read.” Jane Shore

“Both comforting and unsettling. For all the domestic terrors at the heart of it, it is a quiet, intimate book that unfolds in a gentle, unraveling manner, gaining much of its power through its muted tone and persistent gradual revealing.” Jim Heynen

ISBN 0-011287-22-1 (paper) $12.95
146 pages 6 x 9