Trace evidence Poems

Charif Shanahan, 1983-

Book - 2023

"In Trace Evidence, the urgent follow-up to his award-winning debut Into Each Room We Enter without Knowing, Charif Shanahan continues his piercing meditations on the intricacies of mixed-race identity, queer desire, time, mortality, and the legacies of anti-Blackness in the US and abroad. At the collection's center sits "On the Overnight from Agadir," a poem that chronicles the poet's survival of a devastating bus accident in Morocco, his mother's birth country, and ruminates on home, belonging, and the mysteries of fate. With rich lyricism, power, and tenderness, Trace Evidence centers the racial periphery and excavates the vestiges of our violent colonial past in the most intimate aspects of our lives. In a ...language yoked equally by the physical and metaphysical worlds, the poet articulates the need we all share for true intimacy and connection, and proves, time and again, that the true cost of our separateness is the love that our survival requires"--

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2nd Floor New Shelf 811.6/Shanahan (NEW SHELF) Checked In
Portland, Oregon : Tin House 2023.
Main Author
Charif Shanahan, 1983- (author)
First US edition
Physical Description
94 pages ; 23 cm
  • Colonialism
  • Trace Evidence
  • "Mulatto" :: "Quadroon"
  • Imago
  • Thirty-Third Year
  • Encounter
  • Control
  • Clot
  • Talking with My Boss about Diversity and Inclusion
  • Countertransference
  • Self-Determination with the Question of Race
  • Infidelity
  • Not the Whole Thing, but a Large Part of the Story
  • Trace Evidence
  • Two Rooms Down the Hall
  • In the Basement of Sears & Roebuck When for the First Time I Pulled My Hand from Her Hand and Fled
  • Exile
  • Race
  • My People
  • Inner Children
  • On the Overnight from Agadir
  • Little Red Lighthouse
  • Little Red Lighthouse
  • While I Wash My Face I Ask Impossible Questions of Myself and Those Who Love Me
  • Psychotherapy
  • Thirty-Fifth Year
  • On Exiting Universitätsspical Zürich, New Year's Eve, 2015
  • Present Moment
  • End of Days
  • Fig Tree
  • Love
  • Fate
  • Wound
  • My Work
  • Indeterminacy
  • Thirty-Seventh Year
  • Self-Portrait as Homo sapiens
  • Conversation in Long Future Time
  • Talking with God
  • Worthiness
  • Acknowledgments
  • About the Author
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this exquisite and affecting collection, Shanahan (Into Each Room We Enter Without Knowing) explores longing and alienation in queer and mixed-race contexts. With provocative and arresting language, he examines the ways in which white supremacy and heteronormativity make those who do not fit neatly into categories feel like outsiders in their own lives: "To speak at all/ I must occupy a position// In a system whose positions/ I appear not to occupy." He writes of the subtle complications in his relationship with his Moroccan mother, who, unlike Charif, does not consider herself Black: "Over there, she was sahrawi, asmar,/ Even abid. Over here, Black.// To her, Black meant African American,/ Which she was not// ...Hence the pocket of nowhereness." "On the Overnight from Agadir," the haunting poem at the center of the book, he details a visit to Morocco, during which he was involved in a bus accident that broke his neck, a near-death experience that caused him to examine his priorities and serves as a chilling symbol of the trauma surrounding his racial identity and heritage. Out of pain and loss, joy, sex, state-sanctioned violence, and nomadic longing, Charif constructs a comprehensive identity and an artistic vision that is dynamic and brilliantly conveyed. (Mar.)

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Review by Library Journal Review

With lyrical precision, Shanahan's second collection (after Into Each Room We Enter Without Knowing) burrows into the difficult questions of how one might live, and why. Amid the overlapping and ambiguous contexts of biracial identity, nationality, family, and sexuality ("To speak at all/ I must occupy a position/ In a system whose positions/ I appear not to occupy), the poems build toward something of a unified theory, rejecting the simplifications of clear labels or false distinctions, embracing questions and multiplicity ("his kin/ Being caught, yes, but not between,/ Rather inside the two, as we are/ Inside our bodies/ Gnarly and awkwardly the same"). A long poem, "On the Overnight from Agadir," anchors the collection, detailing a life-threatening bus crash in Morocco, and it serves as a visceral inquiry into mortality and existence ("Where does the inquiry begin Does it begin in my particular body in my particular mind/ Does it begin centuries before me Does it begin in my mother Does in begin in all these places At once"). VERDICT Shanahan's new work meets anguish and pain directly and ultimately proposes a tender and expansive possibility: "If you are on this earth/ You are of this earth." Emotionally vulnerable and insightful; a work in which all readers likely will find something of themselves.--Amy Dickinson

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