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...
Shannon Hamann (1966-2004)
- The Marigold
- The Carpenter and the Moon
- The Farm
- The Violent Imagination
- Best Friend
- Easter (continued, or use the "forward" link on the first page)
Bye, Shanny. I know you probably hate the idea, but rest in peace anyway.
Your Friend Michael.