"There was a rose that faded young;
I saw its shattered beauty hung
Upon a broken stem.
I heard them say, “What need to care
With roses budding everywhere?”
I did not answer them.
There was a bird, brought down to die;
They said, “A hundred fill the sky-
What reason to be sad?”
There was a girl, whose lover fled;
I did not wait, the while they said,
"There’s many another lad."
"Solace" -Dorothy Parker: Not So Deep as a Well: Collected Poems (1936)
- According to Rhonda Pettit at Modern America Poetry, Dorothy Parker attempted suicide at least twice.
"…actually, it’s kind of timeless."
WIND-UP BUTTER COW Summer 1996 (page 43)
LIZ CLAYTON, Editor
VERTICAL SLIT review by TOM LAX
- We thought long and hard about this one. Tom’s last line - "Write him" - puts this in a different category than all the rest, because anyone who knows anything about Jim Shepard knows that he can’t be written to. He committed suicide in October 1998. The manner in which Tom ends his review inevitably brings this tragic fact into play, thereby rendering the review more powerful than it otherwise would be. (This is not to suggest that it wasn’t or isn’t powerful on its own - of course it is, it’s the pen of Tom Lax.)
- Given the discomfort assimilating Jim’s suicide into this post, our initial inclination was to avoid it. But we pulled an about face, because to avoid this would be pointless for two reasons.
- Jim Shepard’s music is of the highest order - while many artists embrace the art of music as personalized combustion, few grappled with it as convincingly and harrowingly in the sub basement zone as did he. To forego Jim in posts on Fuckin’ Record Reviews because of the manner in which his life ended is not sensible, because his music is moving, powerful and potent and should be celebrated as such. If you can find it, then by all means embrace it.
- More importantly, to avoid posting this review would collude with the shaming repertoires of suicide and depression and mental illness that have been unfortunate hallmarks of the depressed experience in modern times. We here at this tumblr are in no position to moralize about anything other than fuckin’ record reviews (and even then we’re on thin ice), but the shaming need not - should not - be.
- If you’ve lived long enough (and unfortunately for some who haven’t), you’ve known someone who has been unable to find their way out of the abyss. But public attitudes about suicide and depression shaming as topics to avoid are changing. The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention is an amazingly thorough source of information and support and sponsors yearly revolving Out Of The Darkness walks. The next major events are slated for Seattle, Washington on June 14-15, 2014 and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 28-29, 2014.
- Bela Koe-Krompecher wrote perhaps the finest ode to Jim Shepard at his blog, which includes this: "Jim Shepard was an outsider in a land of outsiders; he had spent a great deal of his life in Florida, a veritable outpost of misfits and a state that was constructed for interlopers and floaters who would head down south in search of new beginnings and self-inventions. Jim was a short man, who wore his mat of greasy black hair as if it were a prop from a Harry Crews short-story. He walked with a slight lean as if the weight of the world pulled him forward, waiting to smother him in its own gravitational pull. He was constantly unshaven but never bearded; it was as if he had gotten a George Michael shaving kit from the liquor store. He was a constant ruffled sort, who spoke in a deep mumble as if he were sending himself coded messages. In a sense, even though I drank copious amounts of alcohol and spent hours on barstools next to Jim, I never really knew him but then again I’m not sure if I’ve never really known anybody.”