The Orchard House (Antrim House, 2019)

Front Cover Richard Shaw larger file for his website.jpg

The Orchard House is a transcendent book replete with lyric poems not just regarding the human interface with nature but something infinitely more. Richard Shaw's poems are meditations that develop into mystical experience through keen observation. His vision is akin to W. S. Merwin's in his book of odes, Present Company; and his sensibilities viv à vis the natural world remind one of Theodore Enslin's or Mary Oliver's. The Orchard House is a book to savor; in it, Shaw creates an enduring image of the fortitude of our heart being similar to that of a lighthouse that contains "one enormous reflector / like the one we sometimes feel / at the back of the chest." The aesthetic ethos of The Orchard House might be best represented in the conclusion of the poem "August Stars," whose startling sidereal beauty is "an annunciation / electric / through twilit air." - Wally Swist, author of Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love and The Map of Eternity

What better abode for a nature poet than a house in the middle of an old apple orchard? As Emily Dickinson would put it, Richard Shaw has learned to "see--New Englandly--." The natural world of New England quickens within him in these quietly rhapsodic poems. His unpunctuated lines convey breathlessness, silences, and ecstasy. As for Dickinson and Robert Francis, those New England poets who are his forebears, solitude is his muse. He places his poems "in the chipped / upturned bowl // time spent alone / has fashioned me into." What a generous vessel is this poet, this book that contains fox skulls, Bach cello suites, scarlet tanagers, tiger lilies, Vermeer, black ice, katydids, rain, stars. - Donald Platt, author of Man Praying and Tornadoesque