I received a brief email from Warren Iwasa last night.
As you may know, Steve Shrader died six years ago. Your time at the Star-Bulletin may have coincided with his. Steve was a journalist, artist, and poet. He came to the Islands in the late sixties to teach at UH. He fell in with local ways, loved Waimanalo, and became a local himself. Before he died, he handed out copies of 150 new poems to some friends, in two volumes. I was one of the lucky recipients. Susan Schultz, aka Tinfish, has published the poems. My copy arrived yesterday. It’s a beauty! The volume offers delights aplenty.
Perhaps readers of your blog would like to know that they can order a copy online.
Victoria Nelson, the author of “My Time in Hawaii,” provides a vivid description of the book’s contents.
I’d appreciate your help in getting the word out.
Knowing almost nothing about Shrader’s poetry, I did some quick looking. And after reading through several items, I just ordered the book. Read on, and maybe you’ll do the same.
First stop, an absolutely wonderful 2011 essay by Susan Schultz on the Tinfish Editor’s Blog, which must have been written while she was working on this collection (“the voice that left a hole in my life,” on Steve Shrader).
Here’s her lede:
In June 2007, in our “Sister Bay Bowl” issue of the journal, Tinfish published Steve Shrader’s poem, “Forensic Theology,” which opens “we’ll start here at the frayed edge.” I’d had a hard time communicating with him during the production stage; I didn’t know that he died on February 23 of that year. I google his name now and find that there were two obituaries, back when there were two Honolulu newspapers. On March 6, 2007, the Star-Advertiser reported that “STEVE SHRADER, 62, of Waimanalo . . . A writer, poet and graphic designer” had died, and that he was “born in New York.” Two days later, the Star-Bulletin reported that he had “died at home” and that he was born in tz. There is something appropriate about this moving origin, New York or Cleveland, Cleveland or New York. As he puts it in that poem I published, “behind us lay the boundless grid / ahead stretched the land of fractals.”
Then this from the editor’s introduction which Schultz wrote for this volume.
In Autumn, 1983, East West magazine in Honolulu ran a cover story on Mother Marianne of Molokai, who would be canonized by the Pope nearly thirty years later, in 2012. On the cover was a painting of Mother Marianne, her face framed by a habit, the slightest smile visible on her lips. Only after the magazine was published would its editor, Chris Pearce, discover that the nun’s face was, in fact, a self-portrait of its painter, the magazine’s graphic designer, Steve Shrader. I start with this anecdote because Shrader was a painter, photographer, and poet who lived for over 35 years in Hawai`i, while hiding in plain sight. He was not unknown—he had a circle of friends, he’d published a book of poems in 1970 through Ithaca Press—but he kept his poetry to himself. His apartment in a large building on Waimanalo Beach, called The Castle, was full of paintings, collages, books, music cd’s, and poems that did not find their way out the door and down the staircase of The Tower. He made his living as an instructor of English, a journalist, a graphic designer; those were his public lives. What was most important to him—art, music, literature—he kept within the four walls of his house, and inside his quiet exterior. Even some of his closest friends had no idea he was so many writing poems at the end. As best I can determine, these are the poems of his last few years, written in a final rush of creativity before he died in February, 2007 at age 62.
And from Victoria Nelson’s comments, which Warren mentioned in his email:
“Steve Shrader’s subtle and accomplished poetic thinking casts a far wider net than the Hawaiian islands—it ponders literature, music, history, politics, the world of ideas generally—but ultimately, as he tells us, poetry like politics is local. Local for Shrader meant that ironwood-bordered Waimanalo beach where a man sees a biplane pilot skywriting, where he watches his son ‘afloat, asleep upon the wrinkled and gently sloping surface of an ocean,’ where the same man ‘enters the sea, portal to true peace / his only baggage, red trunks.’ The poems in THE ARC OF THE DAY are the strong/delicate work of an ironist distilling the air, sky, water of a maximalist landscape into their minimalist essence. The later, longer poems of THE IMPERFECTIONIST, in contrast, are rich dense narratives foregrounding character and voice, substantial evidence of the strong new direction his talent was taking him. These two collections, each exceptional in its own way, are bookended by a first-rate critical analysis and an insightful memoir, making this poet’s final volume a four-in-one-treasure.”