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Brenda Shaughnessy Is Stuck in Lorin Stein’s Head

By Harriet Staff

Lorin Stein at The Paris Review blog looks at Brenda Shaughnessy’s poem “I’m Over the Moon” in a new series titled “The Poem Stuck in My Head.” We like it! Stein writes:

It takes guts to apostrophize a heavenly body. Everybody’s seen them: Sappho, Keats, Mayakovsky, O’Hara, you name it. After all these millions of years, what’s left to say? And to write a poem addressing the moon herself—a breakup poem, no less!—you had better be extremely naive, or else know exactly what you’re doing, and get lucky, too.

This is what bravery looks like in a poem. It is not (necessarily) a matter of sharing personal information. To my mind, a brave poem is one that risks seeming stupid or grandiose or frivolous, that nods in recognition at various poems that came before, then sweeps past, racing toward the thing it came to say.

The first time I read Brenda Shaughnessy’s poem “I’m Over the Moon” five years ago, it was a Sunday and I was sitting at the breakfast table. I remember because “I’m Over the Moon” is the only poem I have ever read out loud at a breakfast table. Having read it, I had to share it. The poem (the first in her second collection) marked a new directness in Shaughnessy’s work, but all the sass and sense of humor I loved from before were intact.

For the full poem, head over here. The Paris Review also published a couple of poems by Shaughnessy in a recent issue.


Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 by Harriet Staff.