a_hat_to_stop_a_trainA Hat to Stop a Train

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Wolsak and Wynn, 2003.

Stewart’s living “Mum’s Museum” offers a gentle interrogation of family stories, probing between the sayable for what couldn’t be said, for threads of dis/connection, glimpses of remembered feasts, “dates dripping honey, slices of heaven, slivers of earth, promises.” A shy love song; a tender poetic debut.    — Di Brandt

Sheila Stewart traces and retraces the complex geography of grief until its contours come clear in these angry, loving poems of loss and reclamation.    — Rhea Tregabov

2598 Shape of a Throat cover_f.inddThe Shape of a Throat

Signature Editions, 2012.

In this shimmering book of poems, Sheila Stewart traces the patterns a life makes. “Someone has been here,” she says. “Left you a star of elm leaves.” She dreams these poems onto the page: someone asleep in a subway car, daffodils on a table, coats full of rain. She gives evidence — playful yet provocative — that someone has indeed been here. And her readers have a star of elm leaves to prove it.    — Anne Simpson

Sheila Stewart’s poems skyrocket from the personal to the universal with what seems like the merest of efforts, the twist of a wrist or a sideways glance. “Casting, conjurations, words wanting/air, mouth round.” Her creative energies are just beneath the surface and the membrane between conscious speech and the wondrous utterings of the unconscious is paper thin. No wonder The Shape of a Throat is so full of discovery. “I forgot to put my skin on,” she writes, but it’s we the readers who feel beautifully exposed, having crossed into nakedness with what feels like ease, through we quickly come to realize that a lifetime of willingness is behind each and every leap.    — Barry Dempster

Review by Patrick Connor


art-poetic-inquiryThe Art of Poetic Inquiry

Backalong Books, 2012.

It is this drive to find out what is “hidden” or “at the edge” which connects research to poetry in this book. Poetry becomes necessary when we need to know what is hidden, or almost hidden, “even from ourselves.” This is one way in which poetry becomes necessary.

— Guy Ewing in “When Poetry Becomes Necessary,” review of The Art of Poetic Inquiry