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Six Poems by Shannon Hamann

Okay, one more post about my dead friend, but since this is the one post I've been wanting and waiting to get to, I think this is probably the end of them. Except I may make use of the occasional Shannon anecdote, of course, if and when one occurs to me and if it serves to illuminate one of the many trenchant, pungent, not to mention unguent points I am so apt to make in here.

I've been wanting to share some of his poetry but I didn't want to dishonor him by just typing in some of his stuff. It's not my property to hand around like that, after all. Fortunately there have been a few of his works legitimately published online, and there are a few more now inasmuch as the latest issue  of "Slingshot" magazine (#5) has been dedicated to him. Pointers to those poems below.

But before we get to that, herewith a brief story of a kind of recovery.

Shortly after Shannon died, I was ripping my apartment into pieces looking for a copy of , a book of Shannon's poetry published (in Italian and English) by publisher Cadmo (Firenze) in 1996. After ripping the place apart, an unhappy memory slowly crept into my enfeebled brain. I recalled giving my copy back to him some months earlier. He needed a copy for a grant or award submission he was making, so I made The Noble Sacrifice. And then the bastard up and died on me, leaving me without a copy.

I was bereft, not to mention pissed off. The book is, I think, out of print but in any case never glimpsed on bookstore shelves and so I thought I was going to be S.O.L. But then a couple of days ago I was walking past St. Mark's Bookshop right here in my neighborhood and the thought suddenly struck me... "Wait. Didn't Shannon tell me sometime ago that he had taken some copies in there and talked them into taking them for sale on consignment...?"

Quick as a hounded hare I zipped in, went to the poetry section, and I'll be god damned if there weren't two, two copies sitting there waiting for me. I stood there for a while with both copies in my hand, puzzling whether it would be better to leave one, in Shannon's honor, in the hope somebody would come along and just pick it up out of the spirit of adventure. But then I thought, no, I know people who would want the second copy, so I bought both. Glad I did, too, because when I got home I emailed my friend Vicky, Shannon's best friend (yes, she was a better friend to him than I was, but that's partly because she is a better person than I am), and I discovered that he had pulled the same thing on her that he'd pulled on me. Which is to say, she didn't have her copy anymore either. So directly into the post the second copy went, and now she's fixed up just like me.

Ha, ha, Shannon. We win. Neener, neener.

Trade you my copy of your book, though, if you will come back to life.

Well, I guess it was worth a try.

From the Contributors Page of "Slingshot", #5:

Shannon Hamann received a BA with distinction in 1986 in Communications, Film and Broadcasting and an MFA in Creative Writing in 1991, both from the University of Iowa. L'immaginazione violenta [The Violent Imagination], published in Italy, is a bilingual collection of some of his poems. Over 30 poems have been individually published in a variety of Poetry Reviews. He worked as a part-time instructor of writing, free lance copy editor, and associate editor of "Mudfish". He was working on getting his first novel, Scheherazade's Pornography, published. He was the recipient of a number of professional honors and prizes including the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, a Steinbeck Fellows Grant from San Jose State University, and most recently a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to spend six months in Japan. He passed away unexpectedly Sunday, December 5th, 2004.

He also wrote some stuff for "Time Out New York". Sometime in the mid-to late 90s, I forget exactly when, he converted to Catholicism. A tattooed reproduction of a painting of St. Michael, defender of the church, covered his entire -- yes, his entire -- back. I've been trying to find a copy of the painting on-line, but haven't recognized it yet...

So anyway...

Shannon Hamann (1966-2004)

Bye, Shanny. I know you probably hate the idea, but rest in peace anyway.

Your Friend Michael.


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I knew you died. God bless you. You were my poet friend in NY. You certainly made my experience quite different. I probably wouldn't have drank nearly as much as I had. But it was worth it. In a funny way. I still remember those fridays, those lazy sunny summer fridays.

Thanks, Matthew.

And by the way, anybody else who stops by and wants to post something about Shannon in here, please feel free to do so. I'd love to read whatever anybody has to say in memory of our pal.

I haven't seen Shannon since 1997, but he used to stop by Athens, GA once in a while and turn our world upside down for a few days at a time.

In 1991, when I was 8 months pregnant with my first child, Shannon, who was an old friend of my husband, new friend to me, came into the bathroom where I was soaking in the tub and sat quietly on the toliet. I was a little taken aback, but played it cool. He then proceeded to ask a lot of questions about what it felt like to be pregnant, what I had to eat for the baby, etc., finally observing that being pregnant was like having a "cute parasite." I thought that was a good way of looking at it.

I am so sad that Shannon is no longer in this world. I could read his poetry endlessly. I think he had the most unusual mind I have ever encountered. The feeling of being horrified, tickled, exhilerated at the same time doesn't come along that often.

Thanks for providing this forum. I needed to say something about Shannon.


Heh. Sounds like Shannon, all right. Thanks for stopping by and adding your $.02.

Shannon never ceased to amaze me. Knowing him meant adventure. He attracted a lot of very interesting people. I wanted to meet the Canadian painter Attila Richard Lukacs cause I always admired his work, and in passing I told Shannon. "Well", Shannon's like all excited (you know how he gets), and says "I know him really well, and he's coming to New York next month". So we ended up having a great dinner party with candles everywhere, drinking, talking, smoking into the wee hours...I met my husband through Shannon. Such a rarity to find someone as fresh and unique, crazy and talented as Shannon. I totally miss him. Damn!

He did love to make connections happen between people, that's for sure. And thank you for publishing some of his work online, by the way.

Wow. Thank you thank you thank you. I'm too stunned to have anything intelligent or even amusing to add right now.

Heya, Heather. Don't worry about not having anything intelligent or amusing to say. Gawd knows it's never kept me from flapping my gums. Glad you found this, though. I've been just letting it grow more or less naturally. Just letting be here for anybody who happens across it and wants to say something.

I knew him as a fellow student at the University of Iowa in the undergraduate workshop class taught by Jorie Graham. He brought his poems to class in a David Bowie album cover! He was brilliant but irrepressibly cute and unexpectantly sweet.I also ran into him in Athens, GA. years later where we sequestered ourselves in a bathroom while drinking diet coke and talking.I found this news of his death as I was searching for anything new he had written.
Shannon's gone, but a bit of him is present in everyone who knew him, or had the pleasure of reading his work.

Thanks for stopping by, Jennifer. I love the memory about him using a David Bowie album cover as his briefcase. Typically Shannon.

HEY, GUESS WHAT PAL RENEE TOLD ME! she just got back from london, where she was liming (trini slang for "hanging with friends doing nothing in particular") with limeys, discussing their mutual obsession with all things REM. some of your readers might not know that shannon was friends with stipe, which is a fact. renee happened to mention this friendship to pal craig. craig had been stalking the recent REM tour, city 2 city, and said that they've been doing a song, "find the river," dedicating it to shannon!

did you ever see "repo man?" plate o shrimp!!

renee subscribes to an all REM chat thing called "murmurs" (natch) where she's trying to find a live recording of it.

lyrics: http://www.seeklyrics.com/lyrics/Rem/Find-The-River.html

Wow. Thanks. Obviously you let Eloise know about this, eh? I imagine she would be most pleased. Yeah, let me know if you find a recording. I don't really get how the lyrics relate to Shannon, but I bet hearing them in the context of the song will help. Or, maybe not. Fortunately, I'm not required to "get them".

I did see "Repo Man" but it was so long ago I can't summon up the plate o shrimp reference.

And, yes, it's true, Dear Readers. Shannon was friends with Michael Stipe who managed to overcome his detestation of "speaking in public" to tell some Shannon stories at the service. I'm sure Shannon is pissed at me, wherever he is, for not having mentioned that. Were it possible for him to be speaking to me right now, I'm sure he wouldn't be.

"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?" Learning of his death six months later left me stunned, especially since we lived in the same town. We lost contact when he left the Lower East Side, though it was not out of character for us to lose touch for months and months on end. Shannon was like three friends, two acquaintances and half an enemy all rolled into one. I had the pleasure of sharing a house in I-city with him, and we ran with the bulls in Pamplona together. Surely I must have told him I loved him, we smashed about Paris, Amsterdam and New York enough to ensure that I did. Still, the thought that I will never see his sparkling eyes and enjoy his unparalleled company again sinks my heart. In trying to track him down on the Internet I learned of his passing -- Dammit, Shannon, why didn't I know you had a website? There he is alright, my splendid blond friend. CONTACT ME, it says, and I click and click and click. Toujours, copain, tu me manque.

Yeah, you know what? Of all the people that I know who loved Shannon and whom I know Shannon loved, I feel (naturally) like I am the one person Shannon had the right to feel ambivalent about. But you know also what? I feel like he loved me in spite of my deficiencies in his eyes, which were many I know. Which is, of course, one of the many reasons I love him. I don't think it matters if you actually said you loved him. He knew it. Which doesn't make the pain of not being able anymore to say it to him any easier of course. He is a treasure gone from the world, but I also think he would not begrudge us finding other treasures in this world. As long as, you know, we somehow attributed our finding these new treasures to him. :)

I miss him every moment of the day. But he would hate me if I didn't find new treasures. (As long as I don't forget him, of course, which I never will, Shannon!! I never will!!)

so, i also had a similar problem with shannon's book of poetry, i gave my copy to a friend for his birthday because at the time i was living with shannon on pitt st. and he had a whole big box of them and i knew i could get another copy. then there was the whole january 2002 nightmare and we were evicted and i never got another copy. luckily, shannon had given me a copy of his novel and i have read it a few times in the last 6 months, it is fucking beautiful. i hope somehow someone can get it published. shannon was so brilliant, and hilarious, and insane to live with, and all of that. he comforted me as we watched the twin towers fall that morning on the roof and he made me laugh when i tried to hide in bed afterwards. i wish i had gotten to know him better and i wish we had stayed in touch after we left the LES. thanks for posting some of his poems; its a needed reminder of the beauty he brought to this world.

In reassembling my apartment after a paint job, I came across a small book of poetry by Shannon Hamann. Flash back to March of 1998, the first time -- and the last time -- I encountered this crazy, charming, wild, gentle character in the wee hours out and about in Manhattan. I was dying of a broken heart at the time, and in 24 hours, an all-nighter of sharing stories, drinking, smoking, straight through to a late lunch at a Lower East Side Diner the following day (both with our hair still sticking up, him in an open smoking jacket), and I was cured. What an alive, beautiful person. I left a post-it on his refrigerator, with my name and number. He called, in his strange swagger, telling me his refrigerator told him he should give me a call. We never did reconnect, but I occasionally thought back to that night when one person reminded me of all the possibilities. Finding his book of poems this week, I decided to plug his name into Google, and see what popped up, if he was still living around here, etc. I never expected to find out this. I've been haunted by it all week. God Bless the angel with the generous ear to listen, a brilliant if not somewhat scary mind, a devilish smile, the hair sticking up and the open smoking jacket. I wish someone would post another picture of him on this site. Neither the Norwegian sailor one, or only one other I saw on the Internet from some free-lancer's conference, does justice to the person I remember.

Wow...it seems the rest of the world knew Shannon better than I did. But I guess when your cousin lives in New York and you live in Iowa it stands to reason. But in his passing reading what you all have written about my cousin, I have learned a bit about him. THANKS! And if anyone else knows where to get a copy of L'immaginazione violenta I too would like a copy. I remember at 16 reading his poetry after Ken (Shannon's Dad) brought a few copies to the family. I remember reading the strange and somewhat familiar words and thinking of how cool it was to see it also printed in Italian. I just wished I could have had a chance to get to know Shannon like you all did. Ciao Shannon

God what fucking beautiful stories have appeared since I last visited! I'm sorry for the way some of you found out. You CAN get the Violent Imagination through Amazon -- ultimately it will come from Mom -- mine and Shanny's. Oh, and he loooooved his friends, believe me. Even if he only knew you one night. ;)
In the coming weeks we will go 'live' with a memorial website. So more pictures, music, etc. I urge all to continue the storytelling! We were very close, but clearly I missed a lot of fun not living in NY! Every story I hear whether I recognize it or not is such a treat -- for me anyway.
And I hope to return the favor.
Shannon was such a beautiful, sweet little boy -- those cheeks, those lashes! And really sloppy. A big drooler. I'm afraid to watch the old super-8 home movies -- it feels like I would never stop crying. In one of them, he probably hasn't been walking that long and he's got those rolls of baby fat and pink, pink cheeks...he is running up and down the hall of our Omaha house with my Mom's stockings pulled up to his diaper -- back when stockings were separate, not connected by that nylon underwear thing. And Mom is trying to hide from the camera, so he's kind of alternately harrassing her by running laughing up to her and then back to Dad with the camera. Maybe that's one of those ya-had-ta-be-there's. But I'm sure you can appreciate the notion of Baby Shanny trying on foundation garments. ;)

I was Googling peoples' names when I put Shannon's in. I can't believe what I have just read about him. I have to tell you--I knew Shannon back in Iowa city when he and I took a photography class together. We just clicked and hung out non-stop for the duration of that class. There was a final project that each member of the class was to do and we asked the TA if we could do it together. We ended up photographing ourselves in the various poses of famous nude paintings from history. I still have some of the mounted and signed photos. Of course Shannon was the nude and I was the photographer. We also did several original things that I have mounted and signed. I absolutely adored him. That summer we spent much time at the Deadwood and Shannon would often wear a white shirt open to his belly button, a scarf around his neck and a flowing skirt. He was lovely. I remember going to Hancher to see REM. We were in the front row and got up from our seats to the edge of the stage. Michael Stipe came to the edge of the stage just in front of us and sang right to Shannon. What a wonderful night. I often think of him and knew he was in New York. I often wondered what became of him and what he was doing. Now I know--he was out there making other people just as fascinated with him as I was. Tell me more.

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