About Shannon Ward

Raised in a renovated slaughterhouse on the outskirts of Wilmington, Ohio, Shannon Ward is author of the poetry collection Blood Creek (Longleaf Press). She received an MFA in Poetry from North Carolina State University in 2009 and currently teaches composition at her undergraduate alma mater, Methodist University. Her work has received support from Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, Hypatia in the Woods, and Vermont Studio Center, and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Great River Review, Superstition Review, Tar River Poetry, and others. She lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina with her husband and two cats. Google

Here is a blog …

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Here is a blog post I wrote earlier this month but didn’t get to post until now. There’s no wireless here at the Anderson Center.

I have been neglecting this blog and my writing in general for several months now, but today, I am in the top of an old water tower that has been converted into a writing studio. At the beginning of June, I arrived for a residency at the Anderson Center for the Arts in Red Wing, Minnesota. The Center was originally used as a working farm and research laboratory for experiments on everything from cereal to robotic arms that were used to handle uranium, but now it functions as a thriving artists’ community: home to Red Dragonfly Press, many painting and printmaking studios, and to me and four other residents for the next month.  We are staying in a lovely old house with hand-painted ceilings, dark wood trim, and lots of great little book nooks & places to write.  

On a jog along the Cannon Valley Trail this morning, I heard a lovely whoosh—something like damp sheets flapping on a laundry line—and glanced over to see a blue heron taking off downstream. Summer is just beginning here, and I feel the way that I always feel when I go someplace new: I want to know the names of things. Out of the window right now, I can see the pointy tops of pine trees, a variety that we don’t have in North Carolina. I’ve seen something like them in Maine though. What are they called?   

While here, I am hoping to finish the book of poetry that I have been working on for the last five years. I have a plan. I have inventoried all of my poems. There are 46, but of the 46, around half are flops that have some vaguely redeeming qualities. I am going to take a pair of scissors, cut out the salvageable lines—like harvesting organs, I think—and see if I can collage them into some little Frankenstein poems.

And then there are the ideas for new poems that I have been meaning to get to. During the academic year, I don’t usually have much mental energy left for my own writing, so I keep a running list in my phone of the ideas that I get. I like to think of it like putting them in an incubator. Currently, there are 29. And even if I don’t get to all of them this month, I think I have a decent shot of finally finishing this thing before the summer’s end. It’s a good feeling!

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http://superstitionreview.asu.edu/n8/

Many Thanks to Patricia Colleen Murphy and everybody else at The Superstition Review for another fabulous issue! I’m thrilled to have a couple of poems alongside those by Dorianne Laux, Sherman Alexie, and several other talented souls! Superstition Review

Swamp Dog and Other Superstitions

On my way home from a Halloween party a couple of weekends ago, I hit a deer. Five minutes earlier, I had been thinking about how it seemed like exactly the kind of night when one would hit a deer and how I should be extra careful, and no sooner had the thought situated itself toward the back of my mind than I saw a large doe running toward the driver’s side of my car, too close to miss. I didn’t have my brights on (there was a car several hundred yards in front of me), so it seemed like the poor thing just materialized. At the same time that I knew there was no avoiding it, I insisted, no, it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe by some miracle, I’ll avoid it! I didn’t though. I don’t see how I could have, sans miracle. I must have closed my eyes for a split second at the point of impact. When I opened them, I was skidding like crazy, fish-tailing to the point that I barely managed to stay on the road. It was scary.

A couple of things now strike me as being odd. First of all, as it happened, my mind meta-consciously divided. One part of me was screaming while the other part was steering. The former part initiated the process, but when the latter part took over, I could still hear myself screaming. It seemed strange to be simultaneously carrying out two such contrary actions. Screamy-me and stunt-car-driver-me duked it out after the initial impact, and thankfully, stunt car driver won.

Second of all, I didn’t go back. I called the state highway patrol and asked them to look for a dead or injured deer in the vicinity, but I was too chicken to go back. I thought, well, I don’t have a gun, so even if the poor thing is suffering, there’s nothing I can do, and I am a woman alone on a country road at night. This is the opening scene of at least a dozen horror films. So I pulled over in a driveway next to a double-wide, popped the wheel well out so that it wouldn’t flatten the tire, and drove home. But it seemed like the wrong reaction.

A manifestation of this event includes the development of two irrational superstitions. Irrational reaction A: I will no longer drive to or from Halloween parties. This is the second time I have gotten into day-of-the-Halloween-party car accidents. The first time was in Raleigh back in ’08 on my way to a party Gerard and I were hosting. It turned out to be a great party (met Tina & Tim, a couple of my best friends now), but I was too scared to drive for like six months afterward the first time around. Instead, I bought a down jacket, an umbrella, and rain boots so that I could walk to school in any weather.

Irrational reaction #2: I might adopt a dog. There is a little beagle that comes out of the swamp behind our house sometimes—a stray that our schizophrenic neighbor had been feeding before he moved out. The day after the party, I saw the dog in the empty yard for the first time since our neighbor split (it’s been a few weeks). I have some bones in the cupboard that I throw out to a different neighbor’s dogs late at night when they won’t stop barking. So I threw Swamp Dog a couple of bones. It seems well-behaved (besides being basically feral and refusing to come anywhere near me, so by well-behaved, I mean that it doesn’t bark). And anyway, an act of kindness motivated by a desire for atonement (and a general love of animals) should nullify (or at least lessen) the bad karma resulting from hitting a deer with my old, newfangled car and leaving it to die on the side of the road, right? I know it’s ridiculous, and I’m pretty sure that’s not at all the way karma works, but it might make me feel a little bit better. So I went out and bought some mid-grade dog food (okay, it was Pet Smart gourmet generic, and I bought the hard and soft kinds to mix together), and Gerard and I have been feeding it for just over a week. I still can’t get close enough to start using a gender-specific pronoun though, let alone get it to a vet. I think I will ask my vet if he can procure me some K-9 roofies so I can slip it one and bring it on home.

Also, I have a couple of poems coming out in the upcoming edition of Superstition Review. Many thanks to Trish Murphy for the publication & for facilitating this site!

RIP Mr. Deer (and perhaps my beloved 2003 Hyundai Tiburon. We’ve yet to see whether it’s repairable.)