Angela Shaw

angela shawBorn in New Jersey and raised in West Virginia, Angela Shaw earned a B.A. in English Literature from Swarthmore College and an M.F.A. from Cornell University. She presently lives in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, with her husband and their two children.

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Read Angela Shaw’s interview with the Daily Gazette in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. Here’s an excerpt:

As a young writer, it came as something of a relief to realize that I could (and should) look outside myself for sources of inspiration-not inspiration exactly, as that was already there, but for sources of language and imagery. . . . I look to poems, and paintings, and songs . . . and to movies, catalog copy, wildflower handbooks, and my neighbors’ spied-on daily rituals and routines (suburban backyards) for that sort of material . . . And the Anne Packard quote that appears in my poem ‘Electric’ (‘They have something to do with forever, the space behind the sky and the space behind the shadow’) -‘I borrowed it rather shamelessly. It’s a beautiful and mysterious description of her own paintings, but it also felt right as a way to get at the enigmatic quality of the marital relationship described in that poem. . . .

I rarely write poems that are autobiographical in the sense that their events or their circumstances actually happened to me. But the poems do arise out of my own emotional experience. I try to find a voice or a character or a situation that can express an emotional truth-which for me works better than writing about my own past or day-to-day life. I may choose to write from the perspective of a single person, a married woman, a mother, a courtesan, a prostitute as a way to try on a certain kind of vulnerability, a certain kind of power.

I’m reminded of a line I love from Eudora Welty’s story ‘June Recital’ in which three young piano students have just heard their otherwise unremarkable teacher play a piece with wholly unexpected passion and intensity. Coming from Miss Eckhart, the music made all the pupils uneasy, almost alarmed; something had burst out, unwanted, exciting, from the wrong person’s life. Sometimes I like to think of myself as that wrong person from whom the poems emerge.

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