Highlighted by The Salem Athenaeum
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Meet Our May Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight: Shari Caplan

Highlighted by The Salem Athenaeum

Shari Caplan is a poet, actress, adjunct professor, and visual merchandiser. Her first chapbook, “Advice from a Siren” is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press in June 2016. This summer, she will be a scholar at The Home School, an experimental poetry residency in Hudson and Miami. Shari has enjoyed being a featured reader at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, where she has also organized experimental reading performance pieces, the “Poetry Carnival” and a “Fairy Tale Poetry Tour.” She volunteers as the assistant director of The Salem Literary Festival and the Writing Program Director at The Salem Athenaeum. Shari has worked on The VIDA Count and as a reader for Sugar House Review. She received her MFA in Poetry from Lesley University. You can see her next as The Ringmaster at The Poetry Circus on April 30 at The Massachusetts Poetry Festival..
Poetic Profession   

Poetry is a universe in a box. Sometimes that box is a fishbowl or a river or a glass of milk. The universe might be a lifetime of growing pains or one clear moment as a child at the beach. Poetry is the creation and the teacher. Poetry is the object, the word for the object, the observer and the observed. By writing it (even the word-junk that never turns Second Draft) we converse with our own psyches and with the essential.  A fellow writer once said her favorite poems put her inside the head of someone smarter than she is. Poets can seem wise; when we are lucky, the poem articulate a truth we otherwise would not have access to (in "Clementines," I discovered the sharp faceted diamond of effects that sexualized portrayals of women has on a teenage girl - the blame and danger are not as obvious as I first thought). Do you have to be Smart, Smarter, Smartest to read or write poetry? Certainly not. That's like saying you can't pray without a college degree, or protest, or love. All that poetry requires is that you be human. The poem will show you how.
What fun to wear nothing
but a daffodil around your hips,
to sun yourself in red lipstick!

The blonde’s legs long on sand,
like hypnotism. I dream of satin
castles growing on my chest.

My curls look green as sea glass
in the pinned-up ocean.

When Pop sends me
to retrieve a sweating bottle,
screws accuse from their bucket,
a saw grins across the wall.

On every side of the cellar,
Beauty is ambushed. 

How effortlessly “Pen Pal” lifts
her skirt with a letter opener
and never slips on the envelopes
from hundreds of admirers!

Cool length of a knife at her waist.
She twists, like the symbol for &.
Penmanship is practicable but is pretty?

One day I won’t be the reflection
in Pop’s trophy: all nose, no symmetry.
Mother shuffles on kitchen tiles, singing
“It’s no good unless he loves you.”

What if I spin myself in gauze
and terror too?  The redhead’s o-mouth
like a third eye catches me
pressing the beer to my hip.

Clementines peel easily
and everyone likes their smell.

Her cheeks pucker red and white,
the straw stopping her kiss.
The rind winds around her finger
and all the blossoms cower.

The Salem Athenaeum is a contemporary and historic library, dedicated to enriching the lives of its members and its North Shore community by lending, preserving, and adding to its collection of books and documents, by maintaining and enhancing its historic buildings and grounds, and by offering cultural and educational programs that provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and life-long learning.

Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight is a monthly installment from Mass Poetry. Each month we shine the spotlight on a poet affiliated with, and nominated by, one of our poetry partners.

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