Saturday, July 19, 2008



Never Cry Woof by Shafer Hall
(No Tell Books, 2007)

“West is for the birds, baby.”

With Never Cry Woof, Shafer Hall wants to take readers on a vacation. Forget packing and money for gas. Hall’s imagination, intertwined with the landscape of New York City and the South, take readers for a trip they won’t soon forget.

Coney Island is something much more when, after exiting a train, the speaker and unknown colleague “are the third / And fourth men / On the moon.” Even people take on an otherworldly quality, like in “Central Patricia”:
Patricia explores
herself, most of her
is made of water
in the form of lakes
and melted glaciers.

In addition to these vivid images, Hall shows a love for playing with sound. The first stanza of “A Love Poem (Me-oh My-oh)” rolls off the tongue: “The sexy (sultry, / pipe-swinging) sound / of a 1972 Chevelle.” This can also be seen throughout the poem, “Important Information About Your Man,” though the subject matter is darker:
cold trucks and curves
the South risen for the
seconds counted that make
the body of Fall

whining evening, winding
through easy nouns
like “eats” and “stop”

to hide the smells she made
he removed his skin

With this debut collection, Shafer Hall has carved a place for himself in the contemporary poetry landscape. With a load of wit, love of sound, and a distinctive voice, Hall will be around for a long time. He is wrong about one thing though, when he writes in “Memorial Day” that “summer vacation is / the end of the world.” This book is just the start.


Nathan Logan is the editor of Spooky Boyfriend. He is a MFA candidate at Minnesota State University Moorhead. Some of his work has appeared/is forthcoming in Literary Tonic, No Posit, The Scrambler, and Sir!

1 comment:

EILEEN said...

Another view is offered by Nicola Trumbull in GR #12 at