Born 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.
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.