From Wings Press:
Ann Fisher-Wirth began Carta after a phone conversation with her daughter, Jessica Fisher, who is also a poet. As the author describes it:
I was telling her about this wonderful map I had discovered at the Carolina Museum in Uppsala, and she said, "Write poems about the map." "Oh," I replied, "I might write a poem about it," and she said, "I said write poems about the map." The next day, I went to the museum, sat on the floor in front of the wall-sized glass case that held the map, and began to write. The poem bears all the traces of its coming into existence. It unfolds as the year unfolded; it weaves together the various strands of which the year, with its descent into winter and gradual ascent into an agonized spring, was made. When I began to write Carta Marina, I had no idea of the events that would soon shake my life, when what Shakespeare calls the "dim backward and dark abysm of time," came alive once more. During the past few years, I have heard of many people who have reconnected with long-lost friends or lovers through the phenomenon of email. In part, Carta Marina is about such a reconnection and the ways in which it can or cannot coexist with a happy marriage, a reconnection made especially powerful by the fact that it reawakens grief for a long-ago stillborn child. It is about the ways in which the heart can open, and open, and open and can, with great difficulty, negotiate various forms of love, creating a path that honors both what is lost and what remains.
The first largely accurate map of the Northern Countries, completed by the Swedish historian Olaus Magnus in 1539, the map called "Carta Marina" explodes with phantasmagoria. Trolls, sea serpents, reindeer, lions, warriors, monsters all coexist in the map; and in the poem they become metaphors for the wildness, the realm of dream and terror, that constantly haunts our constructions of order. Carta Marina the book is as intense, beautiful, and strange as the map that inspired it.