Shanna Compton


By the Cover & the Coldfront Countdown

Oh hey, January was been busy and I forgot to mention here that I have a new gig! I'm writing about book design for the new lit and culture website Real Pants, edited by Amy McDaniel & Adam Robinson. (They're having a launch party tonight in NYC.)

Cayla Lockwood altered image piece says "lick your own wounds i'm on a diet"
Cayla Lockwood: Lick your own wounds. I'm on a diet.
Yolo Pages
The column is called By the Cover, and is more at-a-glance-plus-a-peek-inside discussion than the classic book review. In other words, I start by looking at the book, and then see how its design speaks to its content. I'll be doing these twice a month, on Thursdays.

My first two columns have already gone up.

In the first one, I take a look at deadfalls & snares by Samantha Giles (Futurepoem, 2014), and Living in the Love Economy, a chapbook by Patricia Spears Jones (Overpass, 2014).

In the second installment, Great Pretenders, I went a little bit nuts, because it's sort of a trend piece about faux finishes. So I cover more than I probably normally will be cramming into a single post, including: The Baltimore Atrocities by John Dermot Woods (Coffee House, 2014), Mimer by Lance Phillips (Ahsahta, 2014), The Yolo Pages anthology (Boost House, 2014), and a chapbook called many a holy and obsequious tear by Carolina Maugeri (Horse Less).

I also reviewed Claudia Rankine's book Citizen, for the #1 spot in Coldfront's Top 40 Poetry Books of 2014 countdown. (Scroll to bottom. But check out the whole list of 40—so many great books!)

As always, I'm working on a lot of overlapping projects for Bloof too. Did you see the announcement of our 2015 chapbook series? Subscriptions are available for the year's chapbooks, books, or everything.


Recent & Current Reading*

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
Random House, 2010

deadfalls and snares by Samantha Giles (my review at Real Pants)
Futurepoem, 2014

Living in the Love Economy by Patricia Spears Jones (my review at Real Pants)
Overpass, 2014

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
Random House, 2008

Mastering Type: The Essential Guide to Typography for Print and Web Design by Denise Bosler
HOW Books, 2012

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (review forthcoming in Coldfront)
Graywolf, 2014

Rain of the Future by Valerie Mejer, trans. by C.D. Wright
Action, 2014

Authority: Book 2 of the Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer
FSG, 2014

Annihilation: Book 1 of the Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer
FSG, 2014

MaddAddam: Book 3 of the MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood
Knopf Doubleday, 2014

Year of the Flood: Book 2 of the MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood
Knopf Doubleday, 2009

Oryx & Crake: Book 1 of the MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood (reread)
Knopf Doubleday, 2004

Red Doc> by Anne Carson
Knopf Doubleday, 2013

+ approx. 300 poetry chapbook manuscripts since October

*Not necessarily chronological or exhaustive, but I'm attempting to keep a list of most of what I read. Not including browsing (which is how I tend to read poetry and magazines, sorry) or research/resource stuff like Famous Trees of Texas (Texas A&M, 1970) though I am, indeed, also reading those things.


Populating Lewis Baltz's photographs

Elsewhere someone asks about ekphrastic poems inspired by photographs, and requests links to the images as well, to use in a writing class. So I gathered these and figured I would post them here too.

In Brink, there's a poem called "Back in Seaside." I wrote it in April 2011, after visiting the National Gallery of Art, where I was particularly fascinated by the photography of Lewis Baltz. The show included 50 black-and-white photographs plus a 12-panel color work that was backlit and displayed in a darkened gallery.

Here are some of the images.

Seaside 1970

Ideal 1976

Monterey 1976

Gilroy 1967

Fairfax 1973

Ronde de Nuit 1992–1995

The only one I mention by name is Seaside 1970, and I remember other images that I can't find online right now. I particularly love the lettering on the glass and the reflection in Ideal. A vocabularly of images repeats and recycles through his work, so other photos that are not part of this series also resonate.

Here is the poem (at the Academy of American Poets site, Baltz's photographs only rarely have people in them—so I provided those.


Designing a cover for The Sonnets

Just realizing I never posted the cover design I had talked about a few times below, based on one of Joe Brainard's.

The Sonnets by Sandra Simonds is coming out next month (Nov) from Bloof Books. Here is the cover we chose:

And it is inspired by this design by Joe Brainard, for Ted Berrigan's The Sonnets:

Joe Brainard: Cover for Ted Berrigan's The Sonnets
Gouache, 13 x 10, 1964
At first we were going to mimic it exactly, and create a gouache painting just like Joe's but with Sandra's name penciled in. But after we mocked that up and talked further about it, we decided an updated homage was better, and Sandra wanted some color too. So we incorporated those ideas and went with a digitally created cutout look, keeping the original's composition and choosing a stencil typeface. In keeping with the original too, I didn't measure anything with placing the objects in the layout, so it's paste-up in that sense, like Joe's was.

When we revealed the cover, a few people recognized the reference right away, and there's a note inside the book too. (Sandra has written about how sonnets are always copies, of the form itself and of their well known precedent examples, so this concept and the other ones we discarded all had to do with copying, including some photocopied backgrounds, etc.)

"Addendum: The Mountain" at WGLT's Poetry Radio

It aired a few times last week and is now available online and via the Poetry Radio podcast.
Addendum: The Mountain (mp3) 
Publish Date: 10/02/2014 11:25 AMRun Time: 1:59written and read by Shanna Compton; music by Brad Mehldau & Mark Giuliana (Sassyassed Sassafrass from Taming the Dragon)
This poem is from Brink.

The poem is a sort of answer (or addendum) to a poem in my first book, Down Spooky, called "Contraposto" [sic, not contrapposto].