Shanna Compton


Broadside from Columbia College

In November, I spent a week in Illinois, doing readings at Columbia College in Chicago (with Nick Twemlow), Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal (with Peter Davis), and the Dollhouse Series in Chicago (with David Trinidad, Sarah Meltzer Allen, and Srikanth Reddy). This broadside was designed by Clifton Meador and letterpress printed by April Sheriden. The tab moves the poem! They also did a great broadside with one of Nick Twemlow's poems. I'm not sure if these are for sale, but you can read more about the printing and book arts program at Columbia College here


600 chapbooks & counting

This first year doing the chapbook series for Bloof Books has been a lot of fun. I've edited, designed, printed, trimmed & sewn more than six hundred chapbooks! 

The last two in this year's series are Kirsten Kaschock's Windowboxing (shown above) and Pattie McCarthy's scenes from the lives of my parents

I feel so lucky to get to work with all these terrific poets, and despite my many paper cuts, I'm looking foward to the 2014 series.


Currently, Upcoming & Forthcoming

I've been very busy, too busy really. I'm working on that. One of the things that tends to drop off my list is updating here. (I do try to keep up a little better at the Bloof blog, but Facebook is generally handiest.)

This poor old site could use a complete overhaul. I'll get to that.

In the meantime, here are some updates…

  • I recently did an interview with Tony Trigilio, for Radio Free Albion. Listen here.
  • I wrote a review of Dara Wier's You Good Thing, for Coldfront. Read it here.
  • I wrote a long poem, an homage to James Schuyler. It will appear in the next issue of Court Green. (January) I also have work forthcoming in the next issue of Map Literary.
  • I have several events on the calendar, including a panel next Saturday, September 28, at the Conversations & Connections writing conference in Philadelphia. Our topic is how to deal with obstacles to your writing practice, and the other panelists are Catie Rosemurgy, Michael Loughran & Sarah Blake (moderator). The conference is offered by Barrelhouse Magazine.


Reading for the HOWL Festival tomorrow in NYC

I am very excited to be reading as part of the St. Mark's Poetry Project reading during the 10th annual HOWL Festival tomorrow, June 1. Find us on the North Stage (Beatification Station) at Tompkins Square Park, Avenue B & E. 9th Street. Reading starts at 1:00 PM. Details here. Full festival schedule here.



That's really what this is. Every day, I try to get into poem-space and sit there until I come up with something. At least for notes.

I have very little memory of some of them, at this point. Written several days or a few weeks ago. Written seconds before sleep or between the first moments of it.

The rest comes later. Or not. Depending on what I get.






Experiment update

I am going to start setting an alarm or something, during the day, and shift my poem-making time from these evening sessions. I am extraordinarily busy with freelance work and chapbook-making, and by the time I get…here…well I notice I have been relying on exercises more than I was last month. I don't think I'm slowing down exactly, because all day I am thinking about it and looking forward to it. But this one big freelance project will be done this week (or done enough not to be so taxing) and I can catch up with the chapbooks too. I did get to take a hike this weekend, and then today a walk in a place we call "the bird park" because tree swallows and goldfinches and bluebirds and redwing blackbirds are zipping and diving around everywhere. Also, rabbits.





 That was fun. I am going to continue here, but not mention it to anyone but you. Drafts will disappear after 24(+) hours.


Pop goes the forsythia

Some of this I mentioned in the last update as forthcoming, but now it's actually happening. April can be nuts this way.

  • Along with Kirsten Kaschock, Pattie McCarthy, Jared White, Elisabeth Workman, Danielle Pafunda, Becca Klaver, Peter Davis & Catie Rosemurgy, I am posting a new poem (or draft anyway) every day in April at the Bloof blog. 

  • 1800+ other participants can be found at Maureen's site. (Reen's also playing on her own blog, of course!) This is my tenth year of doing NaPoWriMo with Maureen, its inventor. I can't believe it's been that long, and that what started as a jokey name (not national, just Reen!) is actually now too small to encompass its global (!) dominance. 

  • I wrote about a few other National Poetry Month things for the Best American Poetry blog here

  • The Buffalo Small Press Book Fair was a ton of fun. Here's a video of the reading I gave Saturday night, doing two of the poems from Brink and also impersonating Becca, Peter, and Jennifer L. Knox. (Do check out the other videos from that evening too, featuring David Hadbawnik, Jen Tynes, Robin Brox, Michael Sikkema, mIEKAL aND & Christopher Fritton. Stellar!)

  • Here are three sonnets I wrote (two years ago during NaPoWriMo, pretty sure!) up at Connotation Press/A Poetry Congeries. 

  • And here is an essay(ish) I wrote, "On Making," for NPM Daily. (I have enjoyed all the essays there so far, with more to come each day this month!) 

  • This is how I feel in April.


New poems & upcoming readings


A couple of poems appear in the new issue of Barrelhouse, and you can read one of them online here, including annotations about how the poem changed between the first and final drafts:
The Cheating of the Fancy

A longish serial poem is up at Ink Node too:
The Deeps

During the month of April, I will be posting poem drafts every day at the Bloof Blog with a bunch of other poets.


On April 6-7, I will be at the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair, running the table for Bloof Books and also giving a reading on Saturday:
7 @ 7 @ 7: mIEKAL aND, Robin Brox, Shanna Compton, Christopher Fritton, David Hadbawnik, Michael Sikkema & Jen Tynes

On April 27, I will be reading at this with Becca Klaver, Marisa Crawford & Dan Magers, to celebrate the release of new chapbooks by Becca & Marisa:
Chapbook Release Party at Greenpoint Heights, Brooklyn

And in May, I'm doing two readings in Georgia:
Thursday, May 2 at 7:00 PM in Athens, GA at Athica
with Danielle Pafunda & Sabrina Orah Mark 
Friday, May 3 at 8:00 PM in Atlanta, GA at Emory University Bookstore
with Danielle Pafunda


The Next Big Thing (or Sixth Time's a Charm)

I was tagged to do this self-interview by Barbara Jane Reyes, Danielle Pafunda, Sandra Simonds, Pattie McCarthy, Joanna Penn Cooper & George Murray. (Read theirs at the links. I think I waited so long some have taken them down??)

Every one of them a lovely, patient person who is not at all annoyed by how long I have taken to play along.

Here are my answers.

Q: What is the working title of the book? 

I have a newly released book, Brink, and a forthcoming book, The Seam. They sort of go together, and were originally one manuscript that I split. 

 Q: Where did the idea come from for the book? 

The poems in Brink were written individually in my usual catch-as-catch can manner, and after a certain point I began to notice themes emerging. Then I wrote more poems with those themes in mind.

The Seam
came out of my desire to write a "long poem." That's how I think of it, as one long piece, but it has turned out to be divided into three parts, and there are further divisions within those parts, so it may really be just as fair to call it a sequence. Whichever piques your interest more is fine.

The themes that emerged in Brink are continued in The Seam, but further along. I think of them as contemporary and future, now and later, before and after. Between the books—a blank space—the impending disaster threatening Brink takes place. Brink is about the hurtling-toward; The Seam is about climbing-back-out, post-disaster.

I wrote the first sections of The Seam after having a dream of one of the scenes.

 Q: What genre does your book fall under? 

Poetry. The Seam is speculative, fitting several of the characteristics of that mode, as listed here. It's a post-apocalyptic fantasy, with supernatural/weird elements.

 Q: What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? 

I'm going to go with the obvious answer here: James Franco should play every role in both books. 

Sissy Spacek in 1967 could play Celo, the lead in the long poem, maybe. If she wore some tough boots.

 Q: What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? 

The Seam features a chorus of wanderers known as the Rovers, and a young woman named Celo, who find themselves stranded in a blighted semirural landscape after a disaster of uncertain origin.

But that leaves out the mutant jackrabbits.

 Q: How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? 

The poems in Brink include some pieces written over the last several years, one as far back as 2003. But the bulk of them were probably 2009-2011. It came together slowly. Some of the current versions bear little resemblance to their original drafts.

I think I started working on the The Seam in earnest in 2009. It's been rewritten several times, and the most recent version was mostly done in spring 2012. I'm about to hit it again. (
It's typical for me to revise and rearrange right up until a book goes to the printer.)

 Q: Who or what inspired you to write this book? 

I think I sort of answered this already. I wrote until I found an interesting direction. But there are real events, dreams, news stories, revolutions, arguments with my spouse, regrets, memories, all those sorts of things in the poems. 

 Q: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? 

I think both of these books are very different than my previous books.

The Seam
 is easily the weirdest thing I've written, and the longest single piece (or series). Because I gave myself a lot of latitude and tried to push against my many comfortable boundaries, it may be interesting to readers to watch the ways it fails. 

 Q: Who is publishing your book?

Brink has been published by Bloof. The Seam will also be published by Bloof.

 If you are reading this, and haven't yet participated: tag, you're it.