Revered Poet’s Final Collection Reveals Her Light and Dark Sides
Poet Thelma Shaw was born in 1901 and was raised in Chicago. She worked in publishing, both as an editor and a free-lance writer. She spent her later years in Northern California, where she was a creative writing teacher at Palo Alto Adult School. She was the founder and editor/publisher of Ponce Press, a small literary publishing company. She lived nearly a hundred years, and those years were filled with the wonder of words.
Even at the age of ninety-nine, when she could no longer see, Thelma Shaw was still writing, still celebrating the way words work and play. She also decided at that time to collect the best poems of her later years into a final volume. The poems she selected for her collection, appropriately named Still Waters, reveal a complex and fascinating woman who understood both disappointment and joy.
Another appropriate title for this book might have been Light and Dark. Many of the poems are happy, almost frothy, and crackling with humor. They laugh at words, they laugh at modern customs, they laugh especially hard at Thelma herself.
On the other hand, Thelma Shaw was not afraid of the dark. She was in fact used to the dark, having lived for years with diminishing sight. She knew full well that her journey was nearly over, and she approached the end with some resentment but also some relief. These poems face the unstoppable process of aging and dying intelligently and courageously.
Thelma Shaw devoted her life to the English language, but she also appears to have spoken fluent feline. Her enjoyment of cats is evident throughout this book; it is an enjoyment full of respect and admiration, as well as droll humor. And even in cats, she notes the presence of light and dark.From the Back Cover:
“If this were Japan, Thelma Shaw would be acclaimed a ‘National Treasure.’ At the age of 99, she is still writing strong lyric poetry, full of her vitality and joy in life. Whether written in traditional form with rhyme or in free verse, each of them testifies movingly to a loving, thoughtful heart.” --Donald McDonald
“Poet, editor, and teacher Thelma Shaw leads the reader gently into her long silent days of half-darkness and then turns on a radiant light. She celebrates the blessings of memory, invests the smallest detail of her world with meaning, and tips her hat at death. Still Waters is a remarkable collection, deeply intelligent, often witty, always wise, a rare treasure.” --Mary Jane Moffat
“The poems in Thelma Shaw’s second book have the same playful wit and use of poetry’s musical aspects as her poems in These Fringes of Time, with a deepened sense of time and memory that comes with the process of aging. She can be heard practicing and refining her listening skills even as her visual acuity diminishes. In her poems the reader can witness an unflinching and unsentimental, even a bold look into the eye of impending death. Yet the poet hasn’t lost her playful love of cats, her attention to the specific image, her quiet fun at the expense of the ego.” --The Fortnightly Poetry Society
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Book Description Santa Barbara, CA, U.S.A.: John Daniel & Company, Publishers, 2001, 2001. Soft cover. Soft Cover. Near Fine. First Edition. 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 004744
Book Description Softcover. John Daniels Co., 2001, paperback, c2001, no edition stated, NAP, Fine, 74 pages, POETRY; D0125. Bookseller Inventory # 10209