Shelley Savren

Shelley Savren is the author of two poetry collections, The Common Fire (Red Hen Press, 2004) and The Wild Shine of Oranges (Tebot Bach Press, 2013), and two books on teaching poetry: Welcome to Poetryland: Teaching Poetry Writing to Young Children and The Form of Things Unknown: Teaching Poetry Writing to Teens and Adults (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). Her work has been published widely in literary magazines including: Prairie Schooner, Miramar Literary Journal, Levure Litteraire, Spillway, Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Magazine, Solo, Rattle, Main Street Rag, Evening Street Review, Solstice: A Magazine of Diverse Voices, Serving House Journal and Earth’s Daughter, and she has read at universities, libraries and coffee houses throughout the U.S. Her awards include: 1994 John David Johnson Memorial Poetry Award (first place), Rainer Marie Rilke International Poetry Competition (finalist), Cleveland State University Poetry Center Prize (finalist for The Common Fire) and the University of Arkansas Press Poetry Series Prize (semi-finalist for The Wild Shine of Oranges). She has received nine California Arts Council Artist in Residence grants, three National Endowment for the Arts regional grants, five artist fellowships from the City of Ventura and a nomination for a Pushcart Prize.

Since 1975, Shelley Savren has taught poetry-writing workshops for homeless, abused and neglected youth, emotionally-disturbed adolescents and developmentally disabled adults and at a maximum security men�s prison, juvenile halls, a senior center, women�s centers and for every grade level through California Poets in the Schools. Her work has been featured in The Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Union/ Tribune and The Ventura County Star. She has conducted many in-service workshops for teachers and trained dozens of poets to conduct poetry-writing workshops. She is a South Coast Writing Project fellow, holds a B.A. from Ohio State University, an M.A. from Central Michigan University and an M.F.A. from Antioch University Los Angeles and is an English and Creative Writing Professor Emeritus at Oxnard College, where she curates their Literature, Arts & Lecture Series.

All Books

The Common Fire

Shelley Savren

Publication Date: September 1, 2004

$17.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-888996-96-8


The Common Fire is a book of family stories from matriarchs to daughters, about the struggles we encounter in daily life; it is a journey wherein fire keeps igniting, beginning with the burning of flesh in a concentration camp and ending with enlightenment. The book is divided into four sections: “Mama’s Kitchen” introduces the reader to family elders; “Leaving This World” reconciles death—of children, animals, even art; “Just a Child” glimpses at childhood and motherhood; and “Searching for that Light” is the quest for illumination, love and ultimately inner peace. The poems are largely domestic, and the author’s Jewish background adds a strong flavor to the theme: Within the common experience, there is struggle and there is light.

Praise for The Common Fire:

“Shelley Savren’s poems in The Common Fire are warm and direct, full of the stuff of daily life, family life, joy and pleasure and grief and pain we can all identify with in poems that carry a strong emotional weight.”—Marge Piercy

“These are poems of earnest storytelling and fond description. Nostalgia for gone worlds and affection for the evanescing present are the subjects and inspirations for this volume. A pleasure to read.”—Li-Young Lee