I’m working on a series of 50 collages using found imagery and closed-caption sound effects, which will be going to the first 50 people to preorder (CREATURE SOUNDS FADE) from Black Lawrence. A visual take on the method behind many of the poems in the book, the sound effects are more disjunctive in the collages, in the same way they often lag in realtime or live video, referring to imagery that has already flicked off screen. Each is 5 x 7 inches. There are more details (and alt text descriptions) at Instagram.
This collection is, from the get-go, parenthetical, by which I mean layered horizontally in voice, architecture, inflection, and sound—the sound of the ever-fading world, and the soundtrack of the human interior. The tone is a shimmering dread with a backbeat of wonder, and the reigning approach to the line is the caesura—gaps, silences, and redactions. Everything teeters, transmogrifies; even the speaker’s dress shifts from “delicate bushbean pink” to “tufted crest titmouse gray” and then into something like song: “My dress my dress / o mess of shabbiness…” Shanna Compton has managed to write poems that are utterly of the moment—“Oh vomitous intimacy!”— while harkening back to archetype, to the timeless strangeness of the natural world, imagination’s source: “the river/ the gold-green blur of trees,” steadying, sweet, a “clear rivulet of water across the sandy waste.” This collection met my thirst right where it lives. “Fellow navigators,” I urge you to read it. —Diane Seuss
Poems in (CREATURE SOUNDS FADE) slip through cracks into other worlds a little unfamiliar and they insist on the urgency of making what is unfamiliar familiar. You have to see how these poems sound in your head. As private and public exchange places with one another, we’re let in to Compton’s poems, we’re invited to provide the variable. —Dara Wier
Shanna Compton’s poems turn corners you wouldn’t know were there if she weren’t listening for them, locating them in order to give them away, listening to what’s there and what’s left out. Her astonishing feel, sound by sound, for shapeliness sprung from the edges and detail of lived experience, and her intense commitment to deep listening, are antidotes for and tough pushback against the constant threat of total immobility we all face every day. —Anselm Berrigan
This is a little chapbook-making film I made a few years ago for the Center for the Humanities/CUNY Chapfest and Poetry Society of America. Jackie Clark reads in the latter part. (Length is 4:52, and I apologize for the lack of captions. I have learned how to do that and all videos going forward will have them.)
Good morning. Here are the poems from (CREATURE SOUNDS FADE) I’ll be reading at Cafe Istanbul, at 12:15 pm today. (Unfortunately I do not have access to a printer to make copies in advance of the performance.)
Big news! My collection of new poems, Creature Sounds Fade, has been picked up by Black Lawrence Press from their 2018 Open Reading Period. It’s scheduled for July 2020.
At their request, I wrote a bit about the title and how the book came together:
Creature sounds is a term used by SFX designers: it can refer to any animal or monster sound. Growls, snarls, hisses, howls, and roars, but also smaller sounds like lip smacks, breathing, and wounded crying. Sound designers take snippets of real-world sound from one context, rework them, and recontextualize them for wholly different effects somewhere else.
I began gradually losing my hearing in my twenties due to a genetic condition, a fade that eventually necessitated hearing aids and other assistive technology, such as captioning. When I first got the aids, I realized how much I’d been missing. The blinker clacking in the car, a dog barking a block away, and especially birds. These things that had gradually faded from my experience were suddenly and beautifully back. I don’t remember now what movie I was watching, but when “[creature sounds fade]” appeared on the screen, I scrambled to write it down as a title. It also happens to describe some of my process—the poems often start with or incorporate snippets from elsewhere like this: a caption, a bit of overheard speech (especially something I’ve misheard), stray phrases from another text.
You can read the rest of the artist statement and three poems from the collection here.
I’m thrilled to be working with Diane Goettel at Black Lawrence on this new book. More about it as the date gets closer!