where i come from the fish have souls

Lisa Panepinto



ISBN 978-1-949966-17-6      102 pages        $15.00





The poems in lisa panepinto’s where i come from the fish have souls tie resonate with ancient spirits as well as contemporary voices of the poor, the Indigenous peoples, the disenfranchised youth, the forgotten elderly, and those who have found moments of love despite all the madness. These profound, stunning, tightly-wrought poems weave subjects of environment, racism, nature, and music into a greater whole of shattering art that echoes long after reading. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

     Kat Georges, author, Our Lady of the Hunger and Three Somebodies: Plays About Notorious Dissidents

In   Where I Come From the Fish Have Souls Panepinto’s expansive worldview is rooted in the Indigenous history of the ground beneath her feet, celebrating and mourning its many dispossessed peoples—in sharply observed moments where the poet’s compassionate eye measures both beauty and pain. The rhythms of Panepinto’s original, spare, hypnotic verse reflect her musical influences, from Indigenous to jazz to folk to pop. As she travels from city to country, Panepinto renews her bond with Eastern spirituality, seeking the sacred in the face of ruin. Immerse yourself in this book as in the rivers where Lisa Panepinto opens her heart.

      Angele Ellis, author of, Dealing with Differences, Arab on Radar, Spared, and Under the Kaufmann’s Clock


In her unmistakably luminous voice, Lisa Panepinto’s poems breathe with their own growing life and exude reverence for an earth and a life threatened. In this poetic landscape, even the act of eating an egg sandwich becomes a spiritual practice. Traveling past oil rigs that go all night long and the drilling guns that echo through bird song woods/ into the green, green light/ where our feet become water. Each poem in this collection is a revelation that takes us deeper into the beating heart of the earth and of our selves. Where I Come from the Fish Have Souls is sacred poetry of the highest order. In a world that often feels hopeless, Panepinto makes you want to believe.

      Robert Walicki, author of, A Room Full of Trees, and The Almost Sound of Snow Falling

This book walks like prayer through a world which no longer remembers how close we still are to the “living and breathing light” of our kinship with the earth, through this scarred world which chooses, instead, to sharpen its knives yet again. Paying respects at the mass grave of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School site, we are searched by a military guard of the army war college there. We ride with “kids on the bus shouting in coal fumes / their parents down in the mine all day.” Speaking “where the heart has no borders,” the book cries, “river i’m with you sumac and jay ... i glide a living miracle / untouched by the scream of the train.” It says, “sun for bones   ringing / through galaxies of time and space / please let my light be kind.” This is bright prophecy so close to our lives, it is already all around us.

      Jacob Fricke, author of This Book of Poems You Found

Lisa Panepinto was born in Spokane in 1983. Her writing has appeared in The Glassblock, HEArt-Human Equity through Art, Maintenant, Pittsburgh City Paper, Red Flag Poetry, Yes, Poetry and more. She has served as a mentor and a senior companion with the United Way and as an AmeriCorps VISTA, and received the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Panepinto was poet-in-residence for the Maine Writing Project and led spoken word and poetry workshops for youth in foster care, teachers, and Maine-Wabanaki REACH allies. She is poetry editor for Cabildo Quarterly and author of On This Borrowed Bike and the chapbook Island Dreams.