Charlie Shifflett, formerly a journalist based in Washington, D.C. and Beijing, China, uses beautiful, compact language to chip away at moments and memories until an unvarnished honesty emerges. The poems in this collection are highly personal and touch on faith, depression, suicide, and the natural world.
FROM THE PROLOGUE
"I returned to poetry, or rather poetry returned to me, on a hot city bus circulating on the outskirts of Washington D.C.’s clotted roadways.
"I needed something to do, and the gigabytes of content on my phone – music, podcasts, photos to edit and share on Instagram – on this day at least, offered nothing of interest. On the other side of the window pane, meanwhile, were the strip malls, Chipotles and Starbucks I had seen a hundred times before.
"So I opened a writing app on my phone and began, well, writing. The next day, I returned to the short piece I had started on the bus. Over the course of several days, words were swapped out. Lines were added. Sentences were cut. I experimented with form, switching from verse to paragraph and then back to verse again.
"The compressed language of poetry, and the convenience of having the lines always at the ready on a phone in my pocket, meant I could tinker with the text and experiment with ideas nearly anywhere and at any time.
"In the following days and weeks, not just on the bus, but on the couch after work, and during sleepless nights, phone to face, I returned to this first piece, as well as to others, and poetry, in turn, returned to me."