(Creature Sounds Fade)
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“In a collection that is two parts feral eco-poetry, and one part stingingly personal reflection, New Jersey writer Shanna Compton uses re-engineered punctuation as the soundtrack to her crucial work. Here, the woods and the animals do not merely appear as backdrops and extras, they are creatures in coexistence with the speaker, sometimes mingling until the narrative voice and the wilderness are indistinguishable from one another. …In Compton’s work, there is a clear understanding that the land, and those who live upon it, must learn to coexist in some way. Compton doesn’t claim to have the answers – her speaker(s) are often fractured and flawed even while they are earnest and moving. Readers of Camille Dungy, or Mary Oliver fans looking for something with teeth, will find this collection vital to their bookshelves. While Compton seems to implore readers to take action in some places, there is a sense of hope to be found and nurtured in these pages.” —Shannon Wolf, Bridge Eight
“Her poems move across the page at quite a speed, from a human interior to an exterior and engagement with landscape and eco-concerns, enough that the two seeming-poles become nearly indistinguishable. ‘The picked edges of the birches’ / bitter bark,’ she writes, to open the poem ‘Paper Trees,’ ‘Red-gold admixture / of mind a fleeting logical thread / she keeps tangling around / her spindle body [.]’ Compton plays with familiar landscapes and phrases fragmented and re-formed, twisting expectations and direction, constantly darting between lines, between trees, in an out of view in simultaneous outreach and retreat. Compton writes through a voice akin to something wild, something feral, one hesitant to step to far towards an encroaching array of human activity. ‘My love I am a tangled I am choked & salted,’ she writes, to open ‘Shorn Fur,’ ‘My love I am feeling the itch of the buds soon to burst from my skin [.]’” —rob mclennan