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February 21, 2019
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v2.1 Reference

Too Numerous

What does it really mean when people are viewed as bytes of data? And is there beauty or an imaginative potential to information culture and the databases cataloging it? As Too Numerous reveals, the raw material of bytes and data points can be reshaped and repurposed for ridiculous, melancholic, and even aesthetic purposes. 

Grappling with an information culture that is both intimidating and daunting, Kent Shaw considers the impersonality represented by the continuing accumulation of personal information and the felicities—and barriers—that result: "The us that was inside us was magnificent structures. And they weren't going to grow any larger."

About the Author

KENT SHAW is assistant professor of English at Wheaton College in Massachusetts and author of Calenture, winner of the 2007 Tampa Review Prize. His poems have appeared in The Believer, Ploughshares, Boston Review, and Witness.


"The universe inside Shaw's capacious poems is always expanding and adjusting. Room is made for everything that fits and for everything that doesn't, like a box that defies its squareness. Plain elemental nouns are bent toward abstraction. What might be impersonal, even generic, is made personal and elusive. His poems are limber and lucid and loose-limbed, and endlessly, comically speculative. I love getting lost in them."—James Haug, author of Riverain

"'A man building stone arches thinks a lot about stone,' writes Kent Shaw, who stacks his sturdy sentences against the erosion not only of signification and identity, but civilization itself. The darkly allegorical world Shaw fashions in these pages, using the most evocative of building materials—bricks, boxes, forests, rabbits, soldiers, oceans, Styrofoam, balsawood, and fire, among other stalwart common nouns—feels as strange and intimate as the inside of one's body. A man inherits a staircase instead of a son. A husband and wife take off their shirts, lie down in separate rooms, and call to each other from across the house. Jesus strikes Judas in the face with a piece of ham. What Shaw writes about human emotions might well be said about his poems: 'They're the shavings of old growth trees / They're abstract wire sculptures displayed in the corner. / And no one understands what they're for.'"—Suzanne Buffam, author of A Pillow Book
University of Massachusetts Press
Juniper Prize for Poetry

9781625344304 : too-numerous-shaw
Paperback / softback
88 Pages
$16.95 USD

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