This is a little chapbook-making film I made a few years ago for the Center for the Humanities/CUNY Chapfest and Poetry Society of America. Jackie Clark reads in the latter part. (Length is 4:52, and I apologize for the lack of captions. I have learned how to do that and all videos going forward will have them.)
Good morning. Here are the poems from (CREATURE SOUNDS FADE) I’ll be reading at Cafe Istanbul, at 12:15 pm today. (Unfortunately I do not have access to a printer to make copies in advance of the performance.)
Big news! My collection of new poems, Creature Sounds Fade, has been picked up by Black Lawrence Press from their 2018 Open Reading Period. It’s scheduled for July 2020.
At their request, I wrote a bit about the title and how the book came together:
Creature sounds is a term used by SFX designers: it can refer to any animal or monster sound. Growls, snarls, hisses, howls, and roars, but also smaller sounds like lip smacks, breathing, and wounded crying. Sound designers take snippets of real-world sound from one context, rework them, and recontextualize them for wholly different effects somewhere else.
I began gradually losing my hearing in my twenties due to a genetic condition, a fade that eventually necessitated hearing aids and other assistive technology, such as captioning. When I first got the aids, I realized how much I’d been missing. The blinker clacking in the car, a dog barking a block away, and especially birds. These things that had gradually faded from my experience were suddenly and beautifully back. I don’t remember now what movie I was watching, but when “[creature sounds fade]” appeared on the screen, I scrambled to write it down as a title. It also happens to describe some of my process—the poems often start with or incorporate snippets from elsewhere like this: a caption, a bit of overheard speech (especially something I’ve misheard), stray phrases from another text.
You can read the rest of the artist statement and three poems from the collection here.
I’m thrilled to be working with Diane Goettel at Black Lawrence on this new book. More about it as the date gets closer!
In September my second book (2008), For Girls & Other Poems, was redesigned/reissued for its tenth birthday! It’s now available with a new cover, updated interior design, and a few minor corrections. Here’s the new look:
Praise for For Girls
“This technique always has exactly a feminist cunning, and always a feminist heritage (the Baronness, Acker). We steal shit. It’s not okay. This is a book made from elegant defiance.” —Anne Boyer
“There were a lot a terrific books in 2007, but this was by far one of my FAVORITES! Incorporating the antique book (and antique ideas) for girls. If you don’t buy this book you can only IMAGINE what I mean!” —CAConrad
“Though Shanna Compton’s second full-length book will probably get noticed first for its quasi-gender studies focus, the ironic tone and muscularly discursive lines of For Girls (& Others) mark it as first-rate poetry first, a lesson in articulating individual identity in a public sphere. Compton owns her project—a kind of contemporary primer for girls that, in revealing how far we’ve come, indicates we haven’t strayed far enough from the ideas of the 19th-century handbook that serves as impetus for some of the poems. Luckily, we have Compton’s voice to help guide us. Lingustic virtuosity is a solid draw as well. Those who’ve read Compton’s first collection, Down Spooky, already know her to be adept at torquing language in a way that reveals not simply multiple meanings, but multiple registers. Throughout, Compton uses syntax and lineation to provide some of the punch. Simultaneously reverent and irreverent, For Girls (& Others) is a complex work on identity and the forces we all work against to assert it.” —Rain Taxi
About the book
Includes portions of the following public domain artwork and advertising: Bacchante with Ape (1627, Hendrick ter Brugghen, digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program), Yardley English Complexion Cream ad (1948, as it appeared in Ladies’ Home Journal), Endocreme ad (1948, as it appeared in Life).
For Girls (Part One)
“Preface” is lifted verbatim from For Girls: A Special Physiology, by Mrs. E. R. Shepherd, an popular health manual for girls and young women first published in 1882 by Fowler & Wells and reprinted through the 1890s in more than twenty subsequent editions. The worn, mustard-yellow, hardbound copy that inspired my parody is a gift from my mother, who found it funny when she ran across it in an antique store. An 1891 edition is available online at <http://iiif.lib.harvard.edu/manifests/view/drs:2573459$1i>. Though they are not found poems, most of the rest of the pieces in this sequence borrow their titles and/or other phrases from the same book, heavily remixed and freely recontextualized.
Comedy of Manners (Part Two)
The poems in this section also frequently beg, borrow, or steal, from sources ranging the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries: gardening manuals, adventure periodicals, sermons, etiquette books, religiously inflected medical texts, promotional pamphlets for household products, a clip art catalog, art criticism, newspapers, and the Internet.
If you’d like a signed copy, I’m always happy to do that. Email me. Since much of this book’s awful advice is aimed at teen girls & young women, it would make an apt gift for a niece or daughter who’s into words, especially if she’s got a sense of humor & a strong sense of herself. (She has.)
Got some very exciting poetry news recently, which I should be able to share later this month.
I haven’t been blogging like I thought I might, since quitting FB in March.
I have, however, been writing a lot more, at work on my book-length poem. It’s undergone a massive reorganization, which it needed, and I spent several weeks this summer getting all the notes for unwritten portions into one master Scrivener file, and lately I’ve been writing new pieces for it again. The Book as Lyric Experiment panel we did at &NOW was helpful—hearing Jennifer (Firestone), Emily (Carr), & Catie (Rosemurgy) talk about and read from their projects was illuminating, and articulating my own process and how this poem is different from my other work was too. That has been the bulk of my learning curve—how to sustain the energy and spin out the narrative structure. It’s taken a lot more behind the scenes organization than I am used to building, to keep it from wandering off. (I let the short poems generally wander where they like, having no plan at all beforehand, usually.)
It turns out it’s not unusual for a long-form project to take this long, they said. And each of them works only this way, vs. writing shorter standalone poems, so they would know. The first pieces are 2009, and I realized it was going to be a long-form thing at some point in 2010. The first “complete draft,” which of course was not complete, was “done” in 2012. And here I am still writing it. I can see the end from here though, this time. It’s a much better (and weirder) book than it was in that first awkward draft. I’ve been reading from it some too, most recently last month at KGB.
I have some of the shorter poems forthcoming in the meantime—Shock of the Femme, Bone Bouquet, Bennington Review, Oversound, the Couter-Desecrations anthology. I’ll post about those and the aforementioned Big News as things pop into the open.
Most of my leisure reading has been in service to this poem too, but not all. Right now I’m reading this, which is terrific. (Just like everything I’ve read from Dorothy so far.)
I’m leaving Facebook this week, shifting my social media activity to Twitter (@Shanna_Compton and/or @BloofBooks) and Bloof’s Instagram (@bloofbooks). And yes, I know Insta is owned by Facebook.
Remember how we used to title our blogs? I was Brand New Insects when some of you first knew me. I remember your titles too. I remember your distinctive color palettes and fonts. How your spaces seemed individual, like studios strewn with the fits & starts of your making. I remember your acrobatic appendages, the comment boxes dangling below. (Yes, I remember when those rotted off the body too.)
I took this photo in Stonington, ME, last year. On the last morning before we go, we take our refuse to the dump, which they euphemistically call the Transfer Station. I have a thing for colorful remnants and the poignant beauty of garbage, but I sure wish we made less of it.
Which is to say: I’ll be returning to this space too for longer semipublic thinking—the stuff that is more urgent to share than journaling, less pulled together than essays or reviews. Often lately I’ve realized how much I miss the blogs. Don’t you? (Are you blogging somewhere, again or still? Do you have a Tiny Letter? Let me know where you are.)
But this site badly needs an update. I’m going to switch over to WordPress and redesign everything. So that may take me several weeks, between other projects. At that point the URL may change, but the domain will stay the same.
For the month of April though, I’ll be posting daily drafts (along with several other poet comrades) at the Bloof Books blog for NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo. I’m pretty sure this is my fourteenth year to write poems in public with Maureen. I’m not sure what I’ll be working on yet. Thinking about it.