Matthew Shenoda

In the hard shadow of the moonwhen the recesses of light have goneand the faint red of the hawk's shoulder has disappeared from the skyin the growing pulse of the praying mantiswhen the city has come into its own new lightit is here where I often remember:the weaving of ocean vinesthe trails of history, cemented by touchthe small ridged blossom of the cowrie shellthe indigo dye made radiant by the seller's basket.The way the long grassemerges at the shore.Something of that meeting.These are memories both distant and neartraces of them lived and feltlaughing in the company of the ones who cameholding the silence of the moment, as we starewith wonder, at the bubbling ruptures of a painter's canvas,pull, with care, the clinging skin of a stubborn fruit.I recall these momentsnot from the grand gestureof a thing once known,but from a small place,the place where my child's handis hidden warmly inside my own.

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Matthew Shenoda is a writer, professor, and author and editor of several books. His poems and essays have appeared in a variety of newspapers, journals, radio programs and anthologies. His debut collection of poems, Somewhere Else (Coffee House Press), was named one of 2005’s debut books of the year by Poets & Writers Magazine and was winner of a 2006 American Book Award. He is also the author of Seasons of Lotus, Seasons of Bone (BOA Editions Ltd.), editor of Duppy Conqueror: New & Selected Poems by Kwame Dawes, author of Tahrir Suite: Poems (Northwestern University Press), winner of the 2015 Arab American Book Award and with Kwame Dawes editor of Bearden’s Odyssey: Poets Respond to the Art of Romare Bearden (Northwestern University Press, 2017). His latest book is The Way of the Earth (Northwestern University Press, 2022).

Shenoda began his teaching career in the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University where he taught for nearly a decade and has since held several faculty and administrative positions at various institutions. Currently he is Professor and Chair of the Department of Literary Arts at Brown University. Additionally, Shenoda is a founding editor of the African Poetry Book Fund and both the African Poetry book series and On African Poetry book series.

“These poems meditate on fragments of memory that make up life. A door is cracked, a window, letting in the whole of the world where ‘all the ways of knowing have never added up to a single whole. A birdcall is a birdcall.’ In moments that recall the loss of a child and ask us to witness grief, we are also asked to find a way beyond pain. These poems are prayers against sorrow, and as Shenoda writes they are what might lead us, even if only for a moment, to the sacred.”
—Dorianne Laux, author of Only As the Day Is Long: New and Selected Poems

“Out of this quiet, meditative work something prayerful as attention emerges and fills my lives with deepest feeling. I am awakened into wonder by this voice made of root and wind and waters, glinting with memory, all time touching inside it.”
—Aracelis Girmay, author of The Black Maria

“This gorgeous book is full of captivating description and introspective wisdom.”
Publishers Weekly

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