Michael Shewmaker is a Jones Lecturer in Poetry at Stanford University. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, his poems appear in Yale Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Poetry Daily, Parnassus, Oxford American, New Criterion, Narrative, and elsewhere. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, Emily.
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Penumbra—Michael Shewmaker’s debut collection—explores the half-shadows of a world torn between faith and doubt. From intricate descriptions of the rooms in a dollhouse, to the stark depiction of a chapel made of bones, from pre-elegies for a ghostly father, to his compelling treatment of his obsessed, human characters (a pastor, a tattoo artist, a sleepwalker, to name only a few), these are poems that wrestle with what it means to believe in something beyond one’s own mortality.
“More than any young poet I have read in quite a while, Shewmaker’s artistry reminds me of the exacting felicities of the Donald Justice of The Summer Anniversaries and the Richard Wilbur of Advice to a Prophet. Shewmaker writes poems for the ear and for the heart. Again and again in Penumbra, he hits on that fortunate collaboration of the natural idiom and phrasing that is striking for both its formal grace and originality.”
Rodney Jones, 2015 Hollis Summers Poetry Prize judge