Scraping Away

Fred Shaw

Scraping Away

Fred Shaw

Distributed for CavanKerry Press

64 pages | 6 x 9
Paper $16.00 ISBN: 9781933880785 Will Publish April 2020
In this debut, full-length poetry collection, Fred Shaw offers a deep dive into the cost of service work. Scraping Away is a collection of narrative, sometimes elegiac poems that express the point of view of restaurant workers. Shaw considers the cost, not just in dollars, of feeding a starving public that often finds those in the service industry to be faceless and replaceable. The poems here hope to celebrate and humanize those 102.6 million workers. Exploring issues of class and labor, profit, loss, and privilege, Scraping Away reminds us that a person is more than just their job.

The speaker in these poems also explores complicated family relationships and the angst of his blue-collar, Rust-Belt adolescence. Poems delve into the speaker’s relationship with his parents, often using music and the world of things as a trigger to reflect and express memory. Scraping Away leans on clear language and an imagistic sensiblity to bring readers into the community of restaurant workers and their inner lives. Reminscient of Studs Terkel’s classic, Working, Shaw’s collection passes the issues of the working class into the realm of poetry.
Contents
I | Argot | Curse | Jose at the Yum-Yum Café | The Price of Labor | Scraping Away | The World Feels Small after Shaking Hands with Bruno Sammartino | Party Girls | The Corporate Fifty | The Paper Signs | Demetrius’s Glasses | Cadre | Gratitude | II | Easy to Use as Modeling Clay | Last Offices | Reason to Be | The Place Setting | Bully | A Ginkgo Tree Teaches Me Something about Memory | The Toolbox | Sex-Ed | Napalm Summer | Slugger | Fat Lady | Thirteen Steps | What Dad Brought Home | Wrist Rocket | III | Impermanence | Iron City Sage | Initiation | Section 620 (June 30, 1995) | Bebop Alarm Clock | Two-Drink Minimum | “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?” | Additional Parking for Big Pete’s Blues Wagon | “You Can’t Be on Heaven and on Earth at the Same Time” | Grasping | Caravan | Punk | The Communicants
Review Quotes
Joseph Bathanti, author of "East Liberty"
“I can’t scrape out of my head the jack-hammering of Shaw's bold new volume, Scraping Away. Its yearning beat is indelible, inscribing the ether in a long wake of testimony. Shaw’s been paying attention: to the grit and grease his people wear like praise, the sound of their last two nickels scraped against each other, sparking a conflagration of rev and witness. He’s been punching in, and he’s got the spine and will to scriven it all into words as real as concrete and rebar, shots and beers after the dead man’s shift: He’s got a jazzman’s ear and a millwright’s heart – and, more than anything, Fred Shaw reminds us that poetry is the province of light, the province of truth. I love these poems. They make me 'hunger [for] a constant moon, / one that could hover / and hold still time / before places and days like these are all gone.'"
Jan Beatty, author of "Jackknife: New and Selected Poems"
“Turn the first page of this gritty, faithful book, and you’re smack in the middle of the working class, with poem titles like Curse, The Price of Labor, Slugger, Wrist Rocket, Iron City Sage. Fred Shaw scrapes away artifice and leaves us with a real-life voice: '…I’m keeping ice-bins full / and counters clean, wondering, at times, / if the routine has replaced the oxygen / of my dreams with a working life.' These poems vibrate with back-against-the-wall power from a man who speaks himself into being: 'I stand at the core of potential energy,' and '...Some days we gather ammo, / iron ore pellets that fall from coke cars / piled high and headed down to the ovens.' What is the cost of a life? Shaw writes the pride and dignity of class with a vernacular that can’t be faked, forced, or created—only breathed from the hands of a worker, from body to page.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://www.press.uchicago.edu
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