[an essay on Nancy Shaw]
I don’t know where to place Nancy Shaw in my mind. I’ve admired her writing for a long time, and I know we shared spaces and people. I knew she spent time in and wrote about Vancouver art and artist spaces, and I knew that she was a poet among poets that I knew and learned from. But I didn’t know she died in 2007. Before that I had heard her name and seen her books and articles, had read some of her poetry and criticism, and had a postcard invitation from an exhibition she co-curated as the only thing on the door of my office when I was a teaching assistant. And somewhere in that blur of becoming, I was in a used bookstore and thought I heard somebody I recognized from readings address an employee, who was also somebody I recognized from readings, as “Nancy.” That person looked like a poet, and I assumed it was Nancy Shaw (how many poets named Nancy could there be in a student’s imagined city?). For years, even after I had learned through posthumous author bios that Nancy had died, and had seen the woman I assumed was Nancy after that understanding, some part of me still thought this other woman was Nancy Shaw. When I finally, recently met the woman from the bookstore, who is—I was correct—a poet, something shifted in my understanding. As I took her hand to shake it and heard her say her name, my image of a writer who helped me understand where and when I lived became dislocated, became gone in a way that other, less proximate writers always already are. And I felt something close to “Now I miss her.”
published in Ottawa by above/ground press
as the twentieth title in above/ground’s prose/naut imprint
as part of above/ground press’ thirtieth anniversary
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy
Jamie Hilder is an interdisciplinary artist and critic who gratefully resides on the unceded and traditional lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples. His book Designed Words for a Designed World (McGill UP, 2016) examines the International Concrete Poetry Movement alongside the emergence of various globalizing technologies in the mid-20th century. An Associate Professor of Critical and Cultural Studies at Emily Carr University, he has exhibited work internationally, and actively maintains a dormant research collaboration with sound artist Brady Cranfield.
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