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In Memory of a Banyan Tree: Poems of the Outside World: 1985 to 2022
Three Wooden Trunks
The Country Where Everyone’s Name Is Fear: Selected Poems
  Shann Ray

ISBN 978-0-9991994-5-9     $18  /  $21 (Canada)     5.5 x 8.5       

86 pp      
PUB DATE: April 2019       Featured Poetry


Ecstatic and haunted, tender and wild, Sweetclover opens with the violent, needful calls of elk and closes with the ‘jaw and body rise’ of the long-known love. And what a journey between. Herein we cross mountains and ford rivers, we reckon our deepest beliefs, come evening we hungrily hold ‘the hipbones of the beloved.’ Shann Ray is one of the most vital, necessary writers at work today, and whether novel or poem his project, I am beginning to understand, is nothing less than finding for himself and those he loves, as well as all the rest of us, ways of being whole in the body and whole in the world. And for that, I thank him.

—Joe Wilkins, When We Were Birds


Not torch song but full-throated anthem for the conflagration love tenders, Sweetclover offers an intimate libretto chronicling the kingdom of marriage in which a wife’s body reigns supreme. Ghostpipe, banner, burning house, river, hollowed bell, sugarbowl, fluted vase, mountain lily, weather vane—here’s the body ‘God made,’ disrobed, ‘gilded like a struck match,’ winged. Shann Ray is a poet of ecstasy, god-parented by Derrida and Dickinson, propelled to plumb terrain both spiritual and geographic for clarity around what it means to be embodied and consumed. Love letter writ large to the divine grandeur of Ray’s Montana home and his fellow sojourner, Sweetclover renders poems as consummate prayer.

—Katrina Roberts, Friendly Fire 

Shann Ray’s Sweetclover is a book steeped in desire, a book of body and spirit. It strikes me, savoring these fine, wise poems, that love and religion share a vocabulary: ecstasy, rapture, devotion, faithfulness. In Sweetclover, married love is nothing less than holy.

—Maggie Smith, Good Bones 


This is a book of the very earth, of the bodies of men and women, and the spirit housed in the physical landscapes of each. As a whole, it is a love song to long marriage that calls back to Blake’s ‘heaven in a wildflower,’ shimmering with the compressed energy of the finite. Earnest and boldly written, the poems follow the gravity of desire and find a steady gazing in the oxbows of thought.

 —Matt Neinow, House of Water



About the Author

Shann Ray

Shann Ray’s work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Poetry, Esquire, Narrative, Poetry International, McSweeney’s, Northwest Review, Big Sky Journal, and Salon. Honors include the American Book Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, the High Plains Book Award, Bakeless Prize & Poetry Quarterly Prize. He is the author of American Masculine (Graywolf Press), Forgiveness and Power in the Age of Atrocity (Lexington Press), American Copper (Unbridled Press), and Balefire (Lost Horse Press). A systems psychologist focusing on the psychology of men, he lives in Spokane with his wife and three daughters, and teaches leadership and forgiveness studies at Gonzaga University.


Radiance, Paradise Valley, the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, Montana

I’m often blind but know
stars fire the indiscernible void and you
are in my arms again
and the day of jubilee begins.
Arise, shine, for your light has come
and the glory of the Lord
has arisen upon you.

Now we live, you say, as if in the bedchamber
of those freed from war. Like flowers when the sun wakes.

grows still. The jump and shout, the luminous turn,
the whisper, the winnowing, the infinite burn. Everything
tells me love endures.