Interior Image

Shane Book

Years: 2000, 2002, 2004


Shane Book’s first collection, Ceiling of Sticks, won the 2009 Prairie Schooner Book Prize and the 2012 Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, and was a 2011 Poetry Society of America “New American Poet” Selection. He is a graduate of New York University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. His work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines in the U.S., U.K., and Canada—and on film. He has received scholarships to the MacDowell Colony, Brazil’s Sacatar Foundation, the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference, Naropa University’s Summer Writing Program and Cave Canem. His honors include a New York Times Fellowship in Poetry, Fellowships to the Flaherty Film Seminar and the Telluride Film Festival, an Academy of American Poets Prize, and a National Magazine Award. 



Photograph of Religious sacrifice, Tarahumara, Mexico, 1984




Though blurred in the background, the first thing

you notice is the small white teeth, bared

in a smile, if that is the word, if goats can smile.

The boy in the foreground does not smile,

lips pressed hard together, nose slightly flared

as though he’s just exerted himself.

Pulled up by a rope, one of the goat’s hooves

hangs limp at the wrist, if that is the word,

if goats can have wrists. The goat skinned

from the neck down. The boy’s hair, a helmet

of freshly shorn black bristles. The goat’s neck

and the long bump of vein and switching sinew 

of the neck and the neck stretched.

A shadow across the boy’s eyes, the first

hairs of a mustache and the tiny pock mark

scars on his boy cheeks. The goat’s long

bushy white beard. Something unseen pins

the head up high so the goat seems to teeter on

unseen hooves. Their eyes are open but not watching,

exactly, boy and goat poised, as if to say to some god

looming in the lens, Is this what you want.