“These are enormously arresting, odd, wryly humorous, gripping poems. And the variety of subject matter is astounding. I don’t know when I’ve enjoyed reading a book so much.”—David Budbill
Don't be fooled by the corners on David Shumate's exquisite texts. They may be shaped like footstools, but they move across your mind like racing shells, leaving bright images and big ideas in their wake. Emily Dickinson tells us that literature will take us where no mere boat goes, and Shumate proves her right with these poems of great beauty, of startling insight.
I've run out of adjectives to describe David Shumate's genius and trajectory as a writer, thinker, and witness to history. To find yourself in the wilderness of a Shumate poem is to be confronted with looming questions: For whom, truly, do we have compassion, and how deep are we willing to go within ourselves to find such compassion? Kimonos in the Closet is as subtle as it is inventive, as inventive as it is indispensable.
Past praise for David Shumate "David Shumate's devotion to the prose poem is persuasive evidence of its movement in from the margins (or perhaps of poetry's movement out to the margins). High Water Mark: Prose Poems reads like the work of a conversational free-verse poet who has decided that line breaks are a needless vestigial reflex. His funny, tender little allegories are how Carl Dennis or Billy Collins might write if the Return keys fell off their laptops."
Shumate's High Water Mark is absolutely fresh and unpredictable. I hope it gathers the attention of everyone who truly cares for poetry in our time. You will be surprised by your confrontation with the utterly first rate.
Shumate artfully plays with culture and incongruity to affect new experiences, summoning familiar everyday events and objects for signification . . . In the odd republic Shumate erects in these poems, we find ourselves willing to savor the compassion and inventiveness that roam its indeterminate boundaries.
Shumate covers rich and varied subject matter from animal souls to abstract painters or from having food stuck between one's teeth to envisioning the world a hundred years into the future. He is a knowledgeable thinker who skillfully intertwines allusions to mythology, politics, history, religion, or the arts with wry humor, fanciful imagery and pop culture. . . . As with all good poets, Shumate's poems remind us to open our eyes and really see the lavish, strange, perplexing, and wonderful world around us.
Organized in thematic clusters, the poems in Shumate's 'Kimonos in the Closet' are poems of exchange—cultural, historical, mythological, and personal. Shumate has long occupied a prominent place in the world of prose poetry, but his prose poems ring differently from those of other practitioners of the form. They do not often systematically derange, the senses, though they certainly provide sensory stimulation. . . . Shumate's poems are still mesmerizing, and they are disorienting in a way that gently shakes readers, waking them and welcoming them into the strangeness of being present.
David Shumate is the author of The Floating Bridge and High Water Mark, winner of the 2003 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. His poetry has appeared widely in literary journals and has been anthologized in Good Poems for Hard Times, The Best American Poetry and The Writer’s Almanac. Shumate is poet-in-residence at Marian University and lives in Zionsville, Indiana.