Monday, June 17, 2024

It Will Have Been So Beautiful by Amanda Shaw - Review

I'm thoroughly impressed with Shaw's debut collection. She touches on so many subjects. Her thoughts on home, love and loss, and what is going on in our world are eye-opening. She shows such insight when writing about human relationships. One underlying vibration that came through for me throughout the collection was the yearning for how things used to be. A hearkening to better times, before our world became so busy and jaded. 

I would be remiss not to mention the poem about the cat. "Felis Felix" is just an exact portrait of a cat. The final four lines, "Though not gifted with a range of sound / she lets us know with her clean tongue / You'll never own your lives as I do mine / however well you open doors." Truth...we may go out into the world, joining its hustle and bustle, but we will never be as free as a cat. 

I loved the poem touching on the waggle dance of bees (a form of animal language that honey bees use to communicate the location of food sources to other bees in their colony). "Dance, Dance, Evolution" says in its seventh stanza, "So it's a comfort / to hear there's a dance out there / to save a race from doom." A comfort indeed since bees are part of the biodiversity that humans depend on for survival. 

The title of this collection comes from a quote from Diane Arbus:

"While we regret that the past is not like the present and despair of its ever becoming the future, its innumerable, inscrutable habits lie in wait for their meaning. I want to gather them, like somebody's grandmother putting up preserves, because they will have been so beautiful."

What a quote. I'm definitely keeping it around for inspiration. 

It Will Have Been So Beautiful...indeed. An appropriate title for this stunning debut.

About the collection:

With urgency and compassion, humor and wonder, Amanda Shaw’s It Will Have Been So Beautiful examines the many dimensions of what it means to call anything “home,” including the earth as we know it. In a manner reminiscent of Eugène Atget, who wrote “will disappear” on his photographs of turn-of-the-century Paris, Shaw captures the unique melancholy of living in a time of unknowable change.

As she explores the line between love and loss, Shaw implores us to find a more profound commitment to life in all its forms. At times playful and ironic, the poems celebrate language’s sonic capacities, probing art’s potential to move us from mourning to joy.

About the Poet:

From the time she learned to read her first word — “Boom!” — Amanda Shaw has been in love with literature and language. She earned a BA in English from Smith College and has advanced degrees in education and writing. Equally at ease in a high school classroom and a World Bank boardroom, she is an expert teacher who continues to share her belief in the power of words with students of all ages.

Amanda began her career at a public high school in Brooklyn, where she was committed to student-centered curriculum and staff development as part of NYC’s small schools movement. After nine years in the city, she moved on to teaching ESL internationally and domestically, first in Rome and now in Washington DC. Witnessing poetry’s unique impact on students’ intellectual and emotional development galvanized her own writing. In 2020, she received her MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers.

In addition to actively participating in local and online writing communities, Amanda is the book review editor for Lily Poetry Review Books, where she supports emerging writers. Lily Poetry Review Books will publish her debut collection, It Will Have Been So Beautiful, in March 2024. The poems, written over 15 years, explore love and loss in personal and global contexts. For the past four years, Amanda has divided her time between New Hampshire, where she was born, and Washington, DC. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

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  1. Great post. I am appreciating your posts on poetry. I used to read a lot of poetry, but it's fallen by the wayside and I want to remedy that. The honey bee poem might be a good place to start.

    1. Thanks, Jane! I have always loved poetry. Thanks to Serena, I've started reading it more. I hope you get the poetry "bug" back. :)

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