Charif Shanahan

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Charif Shanahan


Don’t take yourself so seriously
He told me, one morning, after sex

Handing back a draft of this poem.
It started differently then

Than it does now.
I am trying to decide if he was right.


Charif Shanahan reads “Love”


My Work

The redwood in our backyard is seen by three
Or four people a year. We are twelve

In the building, but none of us goes back there
And away from us, the redwood faces

Bricked-up facades. I sit at the round wood table
In my bay window, laptop open: closer to me

An evergreen, for the whole of its length,
Blocks my view of the redwood, its branches

Scraping the window when the wind
Picks up, then falling back

Out of reach.

It is time to write. It is not time to write
Though one time, I am told, is as good

As any time, right now as good as any now.

Charif Shanahan reads “My Work”


Charif Shanahan is the author of two collections of poetry: Trace Evidence: poems (Tin House, 2023) and Into Each Room We Enter without Knowing (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry/SIU Press, 2017), which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and the Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award. Shanahan’s poems appear in The Nation, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, PBS NewsHour, and elsewhere. The recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, the Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, and a Fulbright Senior Scholar Grant to Morocco, he is an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Northwestern University, where he teaches poetry in the undergraduate and Litowitz MFA+MA graduate creative writing programs.