Eve Tushnet writes:
…the ones who recognize the name say, “I didn’t know she wrote poetry.” Shaidle is better known as a vitriolic right-wing Canadian blogger (I haven’t been able to read her site for a while; life’s too short) whose blog title, Five Feet of Fury, is truth in advertising.
So her younger self’s poems will come as a surprise: splintery, compassionate, and imagistic snapshots of celebrities, criminals, or artsy Catholic heroes like Flannery O’Connor. Here’s how Shaidle describes a rainstorm: “Skin’s prayed wet rosaries all day”—and you can see and feel them, the bead-sized dappling drops. Her work is allusive, rhythmic, and rich in spiritual insight. (Her compressed phrase, “those God-tossed well-coins/you call saints,” says more about abandonment to divine providence than a year of homilies.) It’s attuned to the spiritual lives of humiliated people, especially humiliated women: institutionalized, incarcerated, guilty, or shamed.
I admit I have a self-aggrandizing fantasy that my periodic reminders of the greatness of Shaidle’s poetry might somehow herd her back to her gentler muse. But she’s also the best contemporary poet I’ve read, and she deserves to be known for what she does best.
What can I say? 9/11 made me this way.
Although I was just as angry when I wrote those poems, and my other pre-9/11 stuff. My targets were different.
Why don’t I write poetry anymore?
For one thing, I quit smoking. That is the absolute truth. My brain chemistry changed.
Quitting drinking had no effect on my writing, but quitting smoking gave me writer’s block for months, and put my “poetry” function into a coma, which has only briefly shown signs of life in the years since then. (That’s why there are only two parts to this 3-parter. I quit smoking before I could finish, and I’ve long since lost the notes for that middle bit.)
Plus I “got over” (sort of) some of my “issues” — and as I say, I channeled my resentments etc to another target. And got older.
And writing poetry requires long periods of uninterrupted silence, and the free time (and irresponsibility) to deeply (and dangerously) indulge in that month’s/year’s obsession. I miss it sometimes but it is an unhealthy habit.
Eve Tushnet praised Lobotomy Magnificat back in 2007. It’s a review I treasure because she really “got” it.
Mostly: A lot of people see “compassion” in my poetry and other early writing that I simply don’t think is there. I think they’re seeing what they want to see. But whatever.
Thanks to the loyal 5FF reader who sent me the latest link. I don’t have a Google Alert for my name so I wouldn’t have seen it otherwise.