Kent Shaw (born August 4, 1971) is a contemporary American poet.
He served in the US Navy as a nuclear qualified electrician. After the two years of schooling and training that goes with the program, he was stationed on the USS Eisenhower for four years, during which time they made deployments to the Persian Gulf to enforce the no-fly zone following Desert Storm. After being discharged from the Navy at 24 he attended the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL), where he received his undergraduate degree and started writing poetry seriously.
Shaw attended Washington University in St. Louis from 2001-2003 to work on his MFA. There he was able to study with Carl Phillips and Mary Jo Bang, which brought a very serious maturity to his work. They helped him to refine his writing, and bring new parts out. One of the biggest things that he learned was to trust his poetic voice and give in to the subconscious. Washington University also introduced Shaw to an ambitious writing community.
After graduating from Washington University in May 2003, he worked a number of different jobs. He was the Assistant Coordinator at the Washington University Writing Program, a lecturer in the Freshman Writing 1 course, and also taught some poetry workshops. After three years of this he moved to Texas to attend the University of Houston, where he is currently earning his doctorate in the Creative Writing Program. He currently serves as poetry editor at "Gulf Coast" literary journal.
Shaw's first book of poems, Calenture was released on March 17, 2008. It won the 2007 Tampa Review Prize.
In 2011, he graduated from the University of Houston with a PhD in Creative Writing and English Literature. He is currently Assistant Professor of English at West Virginia State University in Institute, WV.
Underwood Reading Series
In 1997 Shaw worked with others to start an open mic at Left Bank Books, a local independent book store. They hosted a yearly marathon reading featuring poets who had some kind of St. Louis connection. The first reading lasted twelve hours and featured readings of historic St. Louis poets (like Marianne Moore or T. S. Eliot) by local media types as well as contemporary poets reading their own work. The second reading was shortened to six hours, focusing mainly on working poets, both established and emerging. It featured nationally recognized poets like Carl Phillips, Mary Jo Bang, Jane Mead, Ben Doler (then Ben Doyle), Jennifer Atkinson, Allison Funk, David Clewell, Rodney Jones, and many more.
In 2001 Shaw rearranged the format and focus of the series, changing the name from the Underwood Reading to the Underwood Reading Series. He and new series coordinator, Jason Stumpf, felt St. Louis would benefit from exposure to poets who were just emerging with their first book of poems. The city already had venues for established poets—venues like River Styx, the Washington University Writing Program Series or the International Writers' Center, but there wasn't a venue for poets who were just stating to establish their careers.
As part of the series, Shaw and Stumpf made a series of fine press broadsides for the poets to commemorate the reading. Money raised from the sale of those broadsides helped to finance the next year's readings.
As a series, Underwood lasted until 2004 and featured poets like John Gallaher, Katie Ford, Suji Kwock Kim, Dan Beachy-Quick, Mary Szybist, Joyelle McSweeney, Arielle Greenberg, Rachel Zucker, Jeff Clark, Richard Greenfield, and many others.
Kent Shaw has also released his first book of poetry called Calenture. This book of poetry won the Tampa Review Prize in 2007. It was released March 17, 2008.
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personal interview with Kent Shaw himself