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Poems by Robert B. Shaw

Robert B. Shaw explores the depths of experience, childhood, memory, and his midwestern roots.


The days go slowly but the years go fast.

Old movies used to bridge the story’s gaps

by morphing falling leaves to frantic snow …


The heart of his book is a series of meditations on his wife’s illness, passing, and what remains after—the vivid memories of time well-spent:


We used to work

together at it, each on a different side,

she stirring, measuring, tasting, I

chopping, dicing, mincing as required.

Rocking the blade the way she showed me to,

I freed from each raw thing a smell we liked:

the garlic’s earthy reek, the ginger’s sting,

the anise wisping up from celery leaves.


“Robert B. Shaw anchors A Late Spring, and After with a group of beautiful elegies for his wife. These recall, in their deep feeling and stylistic distinction, Thomas Hardy’s “Poems of 1912-13.” No less impressive are the other poems in this book. Time and again, Shaw brings his subjects to life with memorable description. Handles of tools look “like lemon jelly petrified.” A man smokes on a dark porch at night, “making himself evident by inhaling, / rousing an ember-dot of hot vermilion.” And the subjects themselves encompass an extraordinarily wide range of experience. Plants and animals, youth and age, private life and public history—everything is here in glorious enchantment and detail.”—Timothy Steele


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Aromatics (2011): The scents that permeate the poems of Aromatics include bittersweet ones of memory, acrid ones of danger, and others equally enticing or alarming. Shaw's scrutiny of the world’s inner mysteries is revealed in daily concerns and the self-reflection and hope that accompanies it.

(6"x9" paperback, 100 pages, ISBN: 978-0-9821561-9-3, $15.00).

ROBERT B. SHAW is the author of six books of poetry, the latest of which, Aromatics, was co-winner of The Poets’ Prize. For his prose work, Blank Verse: A Guide to Its History and Use, he received the Robert Fitzgerald Award. He recently retired from Mount Holyoke College, where he was the Emily Dickinson Professor of English.
December 23, 2016—Hampshire Gazette:
“Writing primarily in free verse, with the occasional prose poem and sometimes in rhyming meter, Shaw recalls memories like the wonder he felt for his grandfather’s tool collection, the marks his father left on the kitchen chair he used for years, and the feel of crossing a farm field in summer when the heat seems to conjure an ‘uncanny emanation like / a sigh up from the blistering soil’” Read the Review

What Remains to Be Said (New and Selected Poems, 2022):A sense of connectedness and gratitude—as in the opening “Morning Song,” Shaw’s mastery of words also unbinds us from words, and we enter the dark behind our eyes.

(6"x9" paperback, 328 pages, ISBN: 978-0-9821561-84-7, $25.00).