top of page
  • Writer's pictureImagine a Bird

On Shame + QUIVER is born

Updated: Nov 12, 2023

I. We are not alone

In a poetry reading on Zoom a couple of months ago, a fellow writer thanked me for “sharing something so personal and honest” with the group. I had just read snippets from “The Dance: losing an alcoholic mom,” and indeed it was a vulnerable prose narrative. What I found interesting, though, was that I was in a virtual roomful of poets who also write therapeutically. Their words vibrate with trauma, healing, and strong emotion. How was my writing any more personal and honest than theirs?

I’m wondering if it has something to do with admitting shame.

Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience

of believing we are flawed and therefore

unworthy of acceptance and belonging.

-Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW

I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t)

“The Dance…” starts off with a memory of the evening before my mom passed away. I was out dancing with friends. She was in a hospital down the street from the bar. I was in my late 20’s at the time, a graduate student. While I excused my lively behavior in the story (“…it made sense at the time…”), I understand now that the undercurrent of shame was still present in the narrative: I should have visited her more often. I should have taken a leave of absence from school during the last year of her life. I should have been a better daughter and thus, a better person.

I felt terribly alone beneath my tsunami of shoulds.

Years of therapy helped me to unravel the loss of my mom and my guilt and shame, but how may a daughter completely rid herself of regret? Reading and listening to others’ stories and poems helped. It has always helped. When certain writers open themselves up wide, I climb right in and curl myself around their vulnerabilities. Shame needs isolation and silence to survive. Readers and writers diminish shame together.

The world needs more “personal and honest” pieces right now. I do believe that, and I am curious to learn which authors have kept you company, too. Please do send me their names, those writers who reminded you that you were not alone during the roughest times of your life.

I, too, will take them in.

II. Quiver is ready!

Do you hope to have left something behind after your life has ended? I myself didn’t have children (and I never will). Yet until recently I didn’t care one way or another if an essence of me remained after I was dead and gone.

Then, as I observed other poets publishing their own books, a desire was uncovered to drop a little souvenir from me, after all. Not just any souvenir, however. A dense, multi-faceted, timeless artifact of strength and lessons learned, but also of discomfort and fuck-ups. It is a small book, 110 pages in total, but it carries the weight of a birth.

That is to say, Quiver: spoken words returned to the page, is sitting atop this sofa, between me and a cup of tea on a saucer. It is officially published.

There is a simple dream attached to my first book. While reading Quiver, if at least one reader feels the smallest sensation of comfort knowing that they are not the only one, that they are not alone, then my heart and the book’s purpose can commingle with the moon and clouds. One reader is not “only one.” One reader embodies the life of a million stories, so if they are so moved, I will dance.

Dance? “The Dance: losing an alcoholic mom” is certainly included in Quiver, along with other unguarded narratives. Yet the book is a playground of subjects, a buffet of emotions. There’s an epic ode to a superhero. There are poems about nature, living alone, bicycling, potatoes. There’s a silly poem about warning a friend before a date and a proud poem about backfat and body acceptance.

If you grab a copy, may it keep you company. May it touch you.

Thank you for reading this and for being here.




Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page