In the stove is off at home, Shawnie Hamer lends us her vulnerability, which stunningly and poignantly presents itself as temple, as rebel, as demolitionist, as nurturer, as example, as guiding star and remedy. Her self-concepted, “Violation Poetics,” premiers in the ever-approaching manifestation of the text itself. In offering her readers the act of making, Hamer sets the blade to many fine incisions, allowing the reader to observe her dissection of masculine discourse and its traumatic violations on the feminine. The reader, floating above like a leaf on water, witnesses the surgery blurred beneath the back-lit aura of her own body and its traumas. The reader is not spoken for, nor is she expected to speak something expected. Instead, Hamer offers her her mystery through the act of making, and empowers it with will, love and rejection, those blades necessary to violate dominant culture. The book is a timely choreography of text and photographic image; its ritual continues to carve in the body, unfettering muscle from memory, long after one exits its domain. In this way, Hamer presents us with a performance between pages, one in which she hosts the personae of her poetic lineage, constellating them to enact Violation Poetics for us. Here Hamer has orchestrated what neither they, nor any of us, can say or do singularly alone. Where the skin/rind breaks, Hamer draws us to question how and why, and guides our hands along for the peeling, our hearts along for the dissecting, our tongues along for the tasting.
Shawnie Hamer deals in transcendence. Hers is a precise language, harmonized with intimacy to maintain a physical connection through persistent waves of violence. These are poems of crafted abstraction, rooted in the body, in equal balance somatic and cerebral. They are tantalizing this way: images solidifying for an instant only to dissolve before us the next. The result: she has given us a book that will not be pinned down, a book always in motion. Voices mingle throughout its text, form a chorus, return to their original singers to compose a work of bravery, tenderness, and considerable skill.
“Where do you live in your body if there is no room?” In her debut book, which is also a guiding constellation, Shawnie Hamer writes about failure--not as endpoint, but as reality. We are failed: because our bodies inherit trauma, because our bodies suffer under capitalism, because we do not always have agency. Yet we continue, in ritual and litany and friendship, and more failure. We continue even if we don’t know what the hell we’re doing. I love that even in a book brave enough to hold all this, Shawnie still says I love you in a bright, bright orange.
Shawnie Hamer is a working writer—an osmotic term which means teacher. Which can also mean editor, or erotic fiction writer. Which has meant bartender, house cleaner, tutor, & wind chime salesperson. Which can mean woman, or poor, or fighter, or seeker of beauty through/because of community.
For Hamer, working writer means being a lover of humans & the disruptions they can create together.
Hamer is a co-conspirator of collective.off. Her poetry can be found in many publications, such as Bombay Gin, Tooth n Nail: practical advice from and for the everywoman, & The Birds We Piled Loosely. She currently lives & teaches & learns in the Front Range area(s) of Colorado.