Robin Beth Schaer's debut collection of poetry Shipbreaking charts a beautiful and dangerous journey. It is an intimate and interstellar odyssey where seas rise mastodons roam aeronauts float overhead bodies electrify and a child is born as a ship wrecks in a hurricane. The speaker here is curious and fierce consulting scientists philosophers ancient maps fossil bones and lovers in order to survive and understand the strange majesty of living. With empathy and exaltation the poems collapse the distance between natural disasters and human struggles interweaving relationships between the upheavals and renewals that both the heart and Earth undergo.
Robin Beth Schaer's first book Shipbreaking won the 2014 Robert Dana-Anhinga Prize for Poetry and will be published in 2015 by Anhinga Press. She has received fellowships from Yaddo Djerassi Saltonstall and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her work has appeared in Tin House Prairie Schooner and Slice among others. She teaches writing at Cooper Union and The New School in New York City and worked as a deckhand aboard the Tall Ship Bounty a 180-foot full-rigged ship lost in Hurricane Sandy.
"Shipbreaking is a book about being saved while recognizing loss ... If we trust our poets enough we allow them to cause wounds and then apply the salves." --The Millions Most Anticipated: Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview
"In Schaer's voluminous shipwrecked world everything is beautiful and no one is safe-it is from this suffering that song is created. This is a gorgeous debut from a smart incisive young poet."-Publishers Weekly starred review
"Robin Beth Schaer emerges as a lyrical force to be reckoned with in Shipbreaking" --San Francisco Chronicle
"Shipbreaking is a stunning book about being awake. Robin Beth Schaer spins her readers through the wires storms and electricity between us -- with great precision of language and line. This is the voice of an explorer a speaker of wild courage. Brimming with recognition of conditions both human and otherworldly Schaer speaks as guide and messenger. This is a moving necessary book." --Jan Beatty
"Schaer toggles between the cosmic and the intimate brilliantly weaving a tapestry of gorgeous sometimes painful interconnectedness. Schaer is alert both to the rawness of the elements and the work of human hands. Her poetry charts a natural history which includes us but not only us. The child unfurling in the womb the city flooded in storm the ship lost at sea: Schaer registers all with a striking combination of gorgeous gaud and stark specificity." --Maureen McLane
"Shipbreaking's ultra-taut lines urge departure a kind of experiential upsweep. And they keen just as convincingly toward the steady grounding of land home and the embrace of the beloved as they do toward the wind-racked surface and unknowable depths of the sea--constants in Schaer's mythology which foster 'that skyward longing to be untethered.'" --Tracy K. Smith
"'Love is haywire' Robin Beth Schaer writes in one of her passionate lyrics 'love for my consort' 'my lovely undoing' and for the seagoing vessels that haunt these lines and for a young son whose future depends on the fate of another beloved this world in which 'under the city' / 'aquifer fills with seawater' / 'slowly drawing the avenues down'. Schaer's language and her passion operate under the increasingly inescapable pressure of limit and the result is something beautiful and broken like this moment." --Mark Doty
"Some poets play the spoons but Schaer plays the knives. Her words are not so much written as carved her lines not so much offerings as incisions ... Schaer has given us the world in this debut: the sea and the sky and the many islands of desire spread between them. She has plumbed our dual human yearnings for escape and return love as liberation and love as captivity. In her lexical and historical wanderlust she has grappled with what it means to name and what it means to leave unnamed." --The Rumpus