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Down Spooky

“Compton’s playfulness is lively, aphoristic, and strange.” —American Poet

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

“As Shanna Compton writes, ‘Hooray for the Differently Sane.’ Down Spooky is a marvel of deep play and deeper knowingness. Read it and take joy!” —Susan Wheeler

“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

“I associate Shanna Compton’s work with the historic NY School, especially that side of its second generation that might best be represented by the likes of Ron Padgett, Bill Berkson & Dick Gallup, all fashioners of lyrics that look as casual & friendly as anything e’er typed out by Frank O’Hara, but with a polish & a twist one might associate instead with John Ashbery. So very many of Shanna Compton’s poems are brilliant, perfectly crafted & even surprising.… “Fusion Lingo,” for example, harkens back to Creeley’s use of the quatrain & Zukofsky’s sense of the hard-edged line in ways that I’ve seldom seen accomplished before. This is a terrific piece of writing — my favorite poem in the book — and if I try to imagine any other living poet who could conceivably have written something on this order, the only person I can think of might be Bob Perelman. That’s about the highest praise I could give anyone, frankly. ” —Ron Silliman

“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