|Born||Shannon Dawn Marie Bramer
4 October 1973
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
|Literary movement||New Ontarion|
|Notable award(s)||Hamilton and Region Arts Council Book Award
Shannon Bramer is a Canadian poet (born 1973). Born in Hamilton, Ontario, she attended York University before publishing her first book, suitcases and other poems, which won the Hamilton and Region Arts Council Book Award. Over the next few years, she resided in Guelph, Ontario, where she helped found the Bookshelf Poetry Contest.
Settling in Toronto, Bramer published scarf in 2001, a book of poems which tells the story of Vera, a single woman working in a scarf store in Hamilton. scarf received praise from Canadian literary critics, perhaps exemplified by the Antigonish Review's comment that it is an "intriguing book about loneliness and searching". 2005 saw Bramer's first book of poems published by Coach House Books, The Refrigerator Memory. Incorporating a broad range of imagery, the poems in The Refrigerator Memory were also well received. Currently, Bramer lives in Toronto with her husband and two daughters. Her latest publication is a chapbook written to raise proceeds for the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Be Mine.
Bramer's poems are typically sparse in diction, and frequently "borrow from" and invent "fables and "fairy tales" - often surreal accounts of transpirations that occur on a day-to-day basis, as in "the psychology of a leaf" when she personifies leaves as if they were a human demographic. Her work differs significantly from both avant-garde Canadian poetry and more traditional, narrative poetry in that it is not pervasively influenced by either a particular school of experimentalism - Sound poetry, for example - or the Western literary canon. This is perhaps credible to her influences, which suggest a reliance more on oral tradition - the Mother Goose stories and rhymes being a good example, as they're transcriptions based on historically popular folk tales for children - than on conventional literary approaches.
Another significant attribute of Bramer's poetry is that it is tonally feminine, as well as less aurally harsh than the poetry of her Canadian predecessors including Bronwen Wallace and Margaret Atwood. This tendency toward gentle or playful phrasing runs in stark contrast with the themes addressed in her work (and, by extension, generates a tension essential to her writing), which is often related to women's issues; as in scarf, when she uses alternatively gamesome and somber, sometimes superficially constructed bad verse to tell the story of Vera, a woman in her late twenties who works in a scarf store and is both painfully shy and suffering from angst as result of her social circumstances. Bramer has stated before that her style is partly indebted to nineteenth-century women writers such as Emily Dickinson, and, perhaps, Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
Two literary ideologies that appear to inform Bramer's poetry are Surrealism and Imagism - the former in her tending towards surreal situations and lightness of tone (she has cited Charles Simic as a major influence), and the latter in her frequently imagistic verse, which often reflects Canadian poet Roo Borson's fixation on the image as a means to convey poetic content (though this approach is probably also influenced by Generation of '27 poets such as Federico García Lorca). Notably, Imagist poet Ezra Pound is alluded to ambiguously in her poem "Urban Restaurant", wherein he is fictitiously described as "Ezra, the new saucier."
Quotation: tricking the fever
whenever we think of resurrection
we think of lazarus rolling over
mumbling sickness in his sleep, death (the idea
of leaving) something we dreamt up
like p a r a d i s e: the long word you repeated
while feverish and still trying to be funny.
love for someone ill becomes uncomplicated,
this is what we dislike most about dying.
you read my poem and said: this is wrong, my body is not
a crushed flower
Poetry, Main Collections
- suitcases and other poems (Exile Editions, 1999, ISBN 1-55096-542-5)
- scarf (McArthur & Co/Exile, 2001, ISBN 1-55096-634-0)
- The Refrigerator Memory (Coach House Press, 2005, ISBN 1-55245-154-2)
- poem(s) on the stairs (above/ground press, 2002, ISBN 1-894214-60-9)
- Fishings (BookThug, 2007, ISBN 978-1-897388-12-9)
- Be Mine (BookThug, 2010, ISBN 978-1-897388-64-8)
- Coach House Biography for Shannon Bramer
- Quill & Quire review of The Refrigerator Memory
- Canadian Literature review of The Refrigerator Memory
- Antigonish Review review of scarf
- Danforth Review review of scarf