Spotlight #21 : Shannon Bramer

Curated by Canadian writer, editor and publisher rob mclennan, the “spotlight” series appears the first Monday of every month.


These are two favourites from Precious Energy (BookThug, 2017). Both poems contain numerous loveable four letter words: room, hunt, turn, hate, tree, true. There is a pillow in the first poem, and a cloud in the second. The toy warns of its capacity to hurt a flower for love. The woman in the second poem bites the branches off a tiny tree; the hurt comes from feeling. The word hurt is important in both poems. These two poems are about obedience and permission but you don’t need the word broken in either one of them.

Two poems from Precious Energy (BookThug, 2017)
reprinted with permission,

after Emily Dickinson

My life stood in corners until
you made us a new home
for playing. At first
I called you owner. You
scolded and commanded me
to be a real friend.
You took me to your room.
You took me to the woods.
You taught me to hunt
soft animals and turn all rabbits
into small coats for our cold hands.
Now I’m so obedient. I smile for you.
I guard your sleeping head.
We share a pillow. Your enemies
are mine. I had none before.
Even a flower
I could hurt now, for you.


It’s okay to hate me, I tell my daughter
you can love me and you can hate me again

You can have a thought about a woman’s open mouth
closing over a cloud swallowing it whole

Maybe you see her biting
all the branches off a tiny tree

And you’re sure it hurts

You can have a thought that is a lie
It feels true in your throat

Shannon Bramer is a poet, playwright and mother of three fantastic human beings. Precious Energy (BookThug, September 2017) is her fourth collection of poetry. Her plays (Monarita, The Collectors and The Hungriest Woman in the World) have been staged in juried festivals across the country, among them: Women’s Work Festival (St. Johns, NL) New Ideas (Toronto) and Sarasvati FemFest (Winnipeg). A full production of The Hungriest Woman in the World recently appeared in Toronto at Theatre Passe Muraille (Backspace) in December 2017, with Pencil Kit Productions. An illustrated collection of poetry for young children entitled Climbing Shadows: Poems for Children, is forthcoming from Groundwood Books in 2019.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.