Forest of Disappearances
Shawna Lemay’s Forest of Disappearances was only the second chapbook I’d put together for the Olive Reading Series. I remember fumbling around with substandard page-layout programs and going back and forth to our printer to come up with a finished format that looked good and could be printed with minimal hassle. (The very first chapbook I’d done taught me a lot of what not to do to avoid massive last-minute headaches…. I’m still trying to re-render that one into a tidy web-ready format for uploading. Stay tuned.)
Swanning about just days before Shawna’s reading, trying to get Forest of Disappearances ready for the printer, someone on the editorial board, our proofreader, or I (I can’t remember who) stumbled on what seemed like a typo or the tyranny of an overzealous spell-checking program. The first stanza of Shawna’s “Dragonsblood Red” introduces and returns to the unfaltering refrain, “I dedicate myself,” applied to a burgeoning (after it’s lyric fashion) catalogue of aspects of the dragon—quiet yet powerful stuff. The second, longer, and final stanza appears to carry that refrain forward except in the final proof rather than “I dedicate myself” each instance read, “I delicate myself.” I was nonplussed. I immediately thought somebody’s spell checker had goofed, that it probably was supposed to read, “I dedicate myself” or at least, “I delegate myself,” but certainly not delicate. Delicate is no verb, let alone transitive or reflexive! I assured myself. With precious little time to spare I “corrected” Shawna’s poem without consulting her. For shame…
A hundred chapbooks were printed; the covers, an intricate design drawn by Olive favourite Jessica Hiemstra-van der Horst, were done on (dragon’s) blood-red card stock; I was rather pleased with the finished product. It was time to get together for October’s Olive reading at our old venue, Martini’s Bar & Grill.
I remember the “regulars” in the barroom were even more raucous and unsympathetic than usual during our little reading in the adjacent, cosy dining room (a phenomenon we no longer have to abide at our new digs). Shawna—even with mic & PA—was frequently drowned out by the sousy din. I could almost sense her frustration, but my mortification was only complete once it had come to my attention that I’d de-corrected “delicate” on her…for indeed that is what it was supposed to read. Delicate can be a verb too, folks! Perhaps Shawna will explain the significance of this rare turn of phrase.
Shawna has been wonderfully understanding and gracious about my gaff, but I do want to apologise for tampering, and assure Olive poets, past and future, that a very important lesson was learned.
The eChapbook of Shawna’s Forest of Disappearances has been lovingly restored to what the author intended and uploaded for your enjoyment.
Be sure to check out Shawna Lemay’s blog, Capacious Hold-All, for a rich gathering of art, poetry, photos, and observations by a first-rate wordsmith with a keen and peculiar eye for beauty.