“There is nothing quite like this exuberance, on the edge of paraphrasable sense but not over it, among Compton’s contemporaries, though many of them have tried. Compton takes it upon herself to make everything interesting, to make daily life spark and fizz.” —Stephanie Burt, Yale Review
“Shanna Compton captures the weird and dazzling collision between the suffering and the awe of contemporary existence. At once disturbing and triumphant, the poems in Brink work together to create an honest, unexpected, and fascinating lyrical exhibition of the complicated human heart.” —Ada Limón
“Compton does as much as anyone yet to represent the way her youngish people live now, the alterable, friable, quizzical, digital, comical voice of a plugged-in, sexed-out, and reluctantly but unmistakably political cohort.” —Publishers Weekly
“In Brink, Compton flirts with disaster on every page, constantly teetering on the edge of complete chaos and devastation. Compton can mingle the otherworldly alongside the common stings of this world. These stoically stated observations feel so precise and accurate: they are like the surgeon’s tiny scalpel peeling back layers of the complicated and revolting human heart. These poems will teach you how to chuckle at devastation as much as they will teach you to fear it.” —Anne Champion, Pank Magazine
For Girls & Other Poems
“This technique always has exactly a feminist cunning, and always a feminist heritage (the Baronness, Acker). We steal shit. It’s not okay. This is a book made from elegant defiance.” —Anne Boyer
“There were a lot a terrific books in 2007, but this was by far one of my FAVORITES! Incorporating the antique book (and antique ideas) for girls. If you don’t buy this book you can only IMAGINE what I mean!” —CAConrad
“Though Shanna Compton’s second full-length book will probably get noticed first for its quasi-gender studies focus, the ironic tone and muscularly discursive lines of For Girls (& Others) mark it as first-rate poetry first, a lesson in articulating individual identity in a public sphere. Compton owns her project—a kind of contemporary primer for girls that, in revealing how far we’ve come, indicates we haven’t strayed far enough from the ideas of the 19th-century handbook that serves as impetus for some of the poems. Luckily, we have Compton’s voice to help guide us. Lingustic virtuosity is a solid draw as well. Those who’ve read Compton’s first collection, Down Spooky, already know her to be adept at torquing language in a way that reveals not simply multiple meanings, but multiple registers. Throughout, Compton uses syntax and lineation to provide some of the punch. Simultaneously reverent and irreverent, For Girls (& Others) is a complex work on identity and the forces we all work against to assert it.” —Rain Taxi
“Down Spooky is as enchanting as a blue lake on a hot summer day that you never want to get out of once you’ve plunged in. The book brims with liveliness, and love, and wit. Shanna Compton has an uncanny gift of seizing moments and situations with sure aplomb, and even when she is reveling in word play—in purely verbal speculation—her words lead to insight. Readers can only be grateful for such beneficent interventions.” —Harry Mathews
“The first line of her bio says it all, really: ‘Born and raised in Texas, Shanna Compton has lived in Brooklyn, New York since 1995.’ She combines West and East, bringing an acute sense of place (places, rather: the Duane Reade and the BQE; St. John Parish in Louisiana and a high school band parade in Texas) reminiscent of C.D. Wright. But like Wright (or Caroline Knox, who contributes a blurb to the back cover), Compton’s truest allegiance is to words and their uncanny ability to manufacture a community of meanings out of the barest possible contexts. The speed of her associations produces a kind of delirious whiplash in the reader.” —Joshua Corey
“Vigorous, winningly smart and consistently hip, Compton’s debut follows a horde of quick-witted alter egos through a decidedly American, youth-oriented landscape whose sites include high schools, zoos, the football fields of Texas, the kudzu-damaged forests of the rural South, the skyscrapers of post-9/11 Manhattan and the rock and roll lounges of innermost Brooklyn. Compton, who just ended a long stint as associate editor at Soft Skull Press, portrays the pleasures and fears of her generation with ‘that hookymaking/convincibility of mine,’ deploying a quick-change lingo of ‘Slashy Speakers, Nervy Endings’ in poems that veer in and out of narrative sense: she shows off a language equal parts angst and speed, with a soft spot for ‘the longing of the never-ringing telephones’ and repeated returns to runaway teens. Compton shows a particular talent for love poems à la C.D. Wright and D.A. Powell: ‘Your mouth is its own environment a canyon/ with trees and snow,’ an augmented sonnet proclaims; ‘lips that have smiled are as limitless as leaves.’ —Publishers Weekly
Chapbooks, Broadsides & Ephemera
An Urban Consolation for Gotham (Center for Book Arts, 2013). Letterpress broadside printed by Ana Paula Cordeiro, 100 copies, out of print.
A Proposed Explanation for a Phenomenon (Columbia College Chicago; Center for Book, Paper & Print; 2013). Letterpress broadside designed by Clifton Meador, printed by April Sheridan. Limited edition, out of print.
The Woman from the Public (2006). Letterpress broadside printed by the author at the Center for Book Arts, NYC. Unnumbered limited edition. Available here.
Rare Vagrants (Dusie, 2010). Wall-hanging accordion book, 40 copies, out of print. PDF available in Dusie: Spring 2010.
Scurrilous Toy (Dusie, 2007). Saddle-stapled, 100 copies, out of print. PDF available in Dusie: Summer 2007.
Closet Major Town (Half Empty-Half Full, 2006). Saddle-stapled, 50 copies, out of print.
Big Confetti with Shafer Hall (Half Empty-Half Full, 2004). Saddle-stapled, 300 copies, out of print.
Down Spooky (Half Empty-Half Full, 2004). Saddle-stapled, 300 copies, out of print.
Opal Memos Nonchalant with Shannon Holman & Jeffrey Salane (Half Empty-Half Full, 2002). Saddle-stapled, 150 copies, out of print.