Friday, December 4, 2015

A Non-Review of Stella Padnos Shea's Forthcoming Poetry Collection Entitled “In My Absence”

A Non-Review of Stella Padnos Shea's Forthcoming Poetry Collection Entitled “In My Absence”

This is not a review of “In My Absence,” which is due out early in 2016 by Winter Goose Publishing. Since I haven't read the book, this, by definition, cannot be a book review. Even though I'm a close friend, my eyes have never once grazed the manuscript, nor have I begged her to let me do so. I have simply not wanted to spoil my appetite. Some things, in my opinion, are just worth waiting for.

So since I haven't read the book, I'll review the three words of the title:

“In” is a helplessly intimate word.

“My” is obviously how to express possession of something. Whether we want to possess that something or not.

“Absence” in general is an interesting concept––something that should be there that is not there. It's the driving force for most human behaviors, and often it seems like life is a box that keeps growing emptier no matter how hard we try to fill it.

My favorite poem of hers is called “Goodnight Stars.” I have no idea if this is in the book or not. But this poem makes me never want to go to sleep, or say goodnight to anyone or anything ever again. And last night and tonight and right now and tomorrow and next year I read it, and I cried/I cry/I will keep crying about what she says, because it will never stop being beautiful and true and infinitely hurtful.

Earlier this year I met her outside of the Brooklyn Museum, late one evening. We had made plans to go look at art. Brooklyn art. Before we went inside though, she darted past a hot dog vendor and into the street, where she scooped up a child's disposable, paper, gold crown that had been discarded. She placed it, proudly, atop her head, and genuinely couldn't believe how someone could have thrown it away. To her, it was a treasure. And this, this is what makes her poetry so beautiful.

When we were inside the museum that night we did not look at much art. I'm usually pretty lazy when it comes to museums. But we did find two paintings side by side, and sat down on the floor in front of them to scribble poems. Strangers stepped past us, but the paintings did not move and we did not move, only a tiny bit of lint tried to climb up off the floors into our pockets after a while, so that it could go home with us. Sadly (for the lint) I never wear anything that has pockets. The concept of pockets seems cruel, to hide things so others can't see or have them. I especially wouldn't want to wear any pocketed garment when I'm around someone like Stella, because Stella is someone who makes you want to empty out your pockets.

As I said earlier, her book is forthcoming in just a few months. I don't know exactly when, but most likely it will be when the snowflakes turn to sludge, as in right before spring hits. You should probably start getting excited about this now though, and then pace it out. Like have a little celebration in anticipation every other week, because it can't be too healthy to drink that amount of champagne on one single book launch evening.

If for some reason you are not able to get a copy of her extraordinary book when it comes out––perhaps you're broke, crippled, what have you––no worries! I will break into each and every one of your homes late at night and read the poems to you, bedside, by starlight. Because you all deserve to hear what she has to say.