Ceiling of Sticks


Ceiling of Sticks

Shane Book

The Raz/Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry Series

80 pages


September 2010


$17.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, Shane Book’s collection, Ceiling of Sticks, is a powerful and unflinching sort of documentary poetics. It bears elegiac witness to the effects of global politics on individual lives. Book’s poems carry us to Uganda, Ghana, Mali, Trinidad, and Canada’s west coast; from a religious sacrifice in Tarahumara, Mexico, to Book’s ailing grandfather’s bedside. They bring an intimate vision of humanity to scenes of inhuman atrocity and suffering; a moment of clarity and empathy to individuals overwhelmed by war or other man-made catastrophes. The attentiveness of the poems and meditative lyrics reveal a careful allegiance to their subjects and a fearless refusal to turn away. Filled with experiences of Africa and Latin America, California and the Caribbean, family and lost love, these poems resonate with the intensity of truth as it is lived and written.

Author Bio

Shane Book is an award-winning poet and filmmaker, graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. His book of poetry, Congotronic, was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2015. His other honors include a New York Times Fellowship in Poetry, an Academy of American Poets Prize, and a National Magazine Award.


“This collection brings a highly developed sense of global politics up for inspection. . . . The elucidation of ‘the political’ is most often centered on the body, thus the poems are both emotionally revealing and gripping.”—Eloise Klein Healy, author of The Islands Project

“These eloquent poems address head-on issues of place and displacement, but not in the usual way. The place in these poems is both inward and outward, a powerful topography of feeling and loss, often remedied by love and always rendered by language and craft. This is a wonderful debut collection.”—Eavan Boland, author of New Collected Poems and Domestic Violence

“Shane Book’s refined epistles unbraid and unfold into natural revelations that are earthbound, spiritual, and unconditional. There’s an unsentimental celebration in Ceiling of Sticks that lets us see the smallest feelings beneath a big sky, without any apology, and we can count ourselves as lucky.”—Yusef Komunyakaa, author of Warhorses and Neon Vernacular: New & Selected Poems 1977–1989

"Brilliant, scathing, and solid poetry."—Bob Holman and Margery Snyder, poetry.about.com

"Ceiling of Sticks is an impressive, far-reaching first collection from an artist with many stories to share. Book crosses boundaries with both urgency and ease, transporting his reader from the arena of the personal to more remote worlds of significance. This is the real achievement and the most interesting aspect of these poems: how Book takes disparate landscapes and brings them under one roof."—Ben Purkert, Harvard Review Online

"The success of this collection lies within Book's dual vision, an eye for that which wounds and that which remains beautifully unchanged."—Susannah Nevison, Jerry Magazine

Table of Contents

Litost: A Style Manual
The One
The Lost Conquistador
Photograph of Religious sacrifice, Tarahumara, Mexico, 1984
Santa Cruz
Stark Room
Uganda, 1997
The Beach
San Fernando, Trinidad, 1954
Blind woman of Gondan
Shaving my grandfather in his hospital bed(2)
The Market
My people
Shaving my grandfather in his hospital bed (1)
To A Curl of Water        


Winner of the Great Lakes College Association New Writers Award

Also of Interest