One of BuzzFeed's “16 Best Poetry Books of 2015” and “24 Best Literary Debuts of 2015”
Robin Beth Schaer’s startling first collection of poetry, Shipbreaking, charts a beautiful and dangerous journey where seas rise, mastodons roam, aeronauts float overhead, bodies electrify, and a child is born as a ship wrecks in a hurricane. The speaker here is curious and fierce, consul
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For your birthday, a party
without you here: spongecake
and cherryade. Hope you were
given bread and molasses.
My love, remember, the polestar
is not alone, but twinned,
a pair of suns, guiding you North.
Sea-themed, but not strictly so, the book has a nautical mind, cutting gracefully ba ...more
The copper carries my wishes.
A storm snapped a dozen trees
the week you left; the same
straight firs cut for masts.
The gazette held no word,
no sight of your sails. Each week,
my fingers traced columns of ships—
Flying Cloud, Lion of Waves,
Golden Empire—with titles
broader than their beams,
bold as thoroughbreds, as if
a name could seal a fortune.
My mind slipped to the ocean
floor, littered with wrecks.
I placed silver coins
beside your picture and knit
scarves until we received
the rattle and whalebo ...more
I loved this book. It's complex and beautiful, but accessible. Schaer has a specific talent for saying something simple and direct in a way that you've never heard before.
Several lines and images that really stuck with me:
In "Property," she waits a ...more
It is the electric anticipation of an approaching storm.
It is the push and pull of wind and words.
It is the smell of hot pavement and ozone and it is the crisp sun and windburn of Winter one day after the snow.
Schaer's writing is startling in its elegance and power.
The poems are alive with precise detail and a sense of the poet’s insatiable desire to understand. She is adept at making connections, and maybe connection comes naturally, to Schaer and to all of us, if her poem “Disturbance” is any indication:
… We are
electric; this is not metaphor.
Each of our cells a tiny battery:
membrane the cardboard ...more
"...We said go slow but were urgent
as elephants, charging down
the power lines. Now the lights
won't stay on and the trees
are down. Sleep until you're done,
I'm awake, brushing hands along..."
To poetry lovers and haters alike, I think this book would have a ...more
Hammered by stars, the island bides
its solitude with sharp trees of parakeets,
prospect fires, and years of wind.
Even coral must dream of cobwebs.
Every breath powdered down,
a legion of waves forbids my face.
This shoaled world is a hoarse hum
of shells. A refuge in halves: I am
forgiven by water, but savaged by ...more
It's one of those books whose poems are so finely wrought that their artistry emanates from every syllable without coming off as pretentious or too academic or more-poetic-than-thou. These are poems that feel intentional in their craft and heft, and which tel ...more
Robin Beth Schaer’s first book of poetry, Shipbreaking, received the Robert Dana–Anhinga Poetry Prize and was published in 2015. She was educated at Colgate University and Columbia University’s School of the Arts. She has received fellowships from Yaddo, MacDowell, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Saltonstall Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her work...more