About the Poems
by Shanna Compton
Late last year I decided I was going to try to write 3-4 chapbooks a year. Having already "completed" what Dan Nester calls "the Word document" of my first manuscript, Brand New Insects, I was intimidated by the idea of sitting down to write a second book. So I came up with a sort of game for Down Spooky, asking friends and other writers to donate titles, for which I would write poems. I gave myself a deadline and got to it. Then Shafer Hall and I started collaborating on Big Confetti. The game for that one was title swapping: I wrote his titles, he wrote mine--and we sometimes tried to screw each other with them. We gave ourselves a deadline, and got to it. Suddenly, I had half of a new Word document. None of these poems came from the chapbooks--so why am I telling you all this? Because these are the poems I started writing between the Spookies and the Confettis and afterward. These are the poems that fill in the rest of the MS called Miracle Fortune Fish. One more chapbook between now and December and I'm all set.
"High Bluffing" began with a single phrase: "A tinderbox child she was." The only place I'd ever heard the word "tinderbox" used literally was in a Grimm's fairytale, and the inverted grammar of that little sentence sent me back there, too. It was interesting to try to balance dark and light in this poem. "Scrimmage" is a dictionary-diving poem. I flipped at random through the dictionary choosing words, then let them suggest the poem, which in this case has a sort of narrative. The words from the dictionary: notwithstanding, go-round, victimize, room and board, featherbed, contrast, cokehead, tequila sunrise, opponent, front burner. "Überdesigned Happy Juice" is a love poem to graphic designers and free advertisement for Sofia Blanc de Blancs. "Thanks for Playing" was also based on a game. It's a poem created from keyword search terms that landed Googlers on my blog. I don't think there's really anything to tell you about "Terroir," except maybe that the title is a French word meaning the grape variety, vines sharing the same soil, weather conditions, and other environmental factors that give a wine its personality or regional characteristics. Terroir is a wine's sense of place, but more than just place, spirit. But you lushes probably knew that.