top of page

Soluble Fish, Winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award (Southern Illinois University Press)


Soluble Fish transports readers to a place of discovery, exploring issues of borders, familial and love relationships, and other aspects of being human. Mary Jo Firth Gillett layers her poems in rich metaphor as she searches for meaning in everyday life. Contemplating a range of topics from teaching poetry to watching her father filet a fish, Gillett’s humorous and playful collection celebrates language and life.


Soluble Fish is a no-holds-barred romp of language and imagination, a cornucopian celebration of great swathes of the known world, from dung beetles to the ‘black stretch-leotard’ of cosmic space. Mary Jo Firth Gillett’s powerful music does not avoid the chaos and cacophonies of our lives but embraces and transforms them, devours them for nourishment and offers us a splendid richness that challenges, informs, and delights to the point of astonishment.”

—Philip Dacey, author of The Mystery of Max Schmitt: Poems on the Life and Work of Thomas Eakins


“Gratitude is what these poems quicken in us, for the witness of this life's abundant gifts:  sea monkeys, lily pond, hibiscus—certainly—and the luxuriant ways of fathers, daughters, rivers, song.  Gillett transforms the common table, the common talk, into something nearer the holy, holy, holy.”—Thomas Lynch, author of Booking Passage: We Irish and Americans


“Mary Jo Firth Gillett is an audacious writer who swerves between outrageous wit and linguistic abandon. Her insatiable imagination absorbs Pavlov, insect love, potatoes, Newtonian physics and a paper-thin-hibiscus, and this symphony of odd relations existing within and between her poems serves to enlarge our vision, our capacity for sympathy, while producing a rather pleasant form of vertigo. Gillett's juxtapositions delight the senses and intellect simultaneously, making a beeline for the heart of the matter through their vivid attentiveness to the materiality of everyday and not-so-everyday experience.”—Phillis Levin, author of Mercury

Dance Like a Flame, Winner of the Hill-Stead Museum's Sunken Garden Poetry Prize:  2013


"Mary Jo Firth Gillett's stylish and deftly-crafted poems are an addictive meld of captivating narrative and a lyricism that serves as a strengthening under-current, infusing each piece with an intricate music that makes every stanza a delight to savor... There are no steps that falter, no trendy attempts at experimentation -- the poet is a master storyteller, pushing each snippet of story forward into light and establishing a signature perspective that is daring, assured and utterly refreshing." — Patricia Smith, Sunken Garden Poetry Prize competition judge and author of Shoulda been Jimi Savannah

Chandeliers of Fish, Winner of the 2004 Poetry West Chapbook Contest

Tiger in a Hairnet — Sold Out


Winner of the Small Poetry Press 1999 Select Poets Series chapbook award


"Tiger in a Hairnet is Katie-bar-the-door, hold-on-to-your-hat, ratcheted-up poetry, definitely caffeinated. It starts off like gangbusters, fast and intense, and maintains that pace and pitch. There's richness here without disorder, proliferationn without waste, a sense of abandon coexisting with surehandedness, passion with playfulness.  The poetry skids, careens, catapults, and burrows.  One feels a writerly glee in the medium, glee in the created voice, the poet grinning from ear to ear behind the scenes.  A knowledge of and easy way with contemporary science add from time to time to the interesting colors of the poetry's tight weave.  On my third reading, I was still discovering, still enjoying the discoveries"  — Philip Dacey, competition judge

Not One, Winner of the Detroit Writer's Voice 1998 chapbook contest 

Mona Poetica edited by Diane Shipley DeCillis and Mary Jo Firth Gillett —Purchase on Amazon


The Mona Lisa is the most famous painting in the history of art. It continues to inspire reproduction, parody and countless theories. We see facsimiles of it everywhere: on buildings and mugs, on computer ads, in cartoons. In honor of her 500th birthday, 2003-2006, Mona Poetica celebrates not only the painting but also inspiration and creativity. This rich and varied anthology includes work by Stephen Dunn, Grace Bauer, William Blake, Edward Hirsch, Natasha Saje and many others. 

bottom of page