Bookmans Recommends: The Poetry of Bill Shields
Written by Flavio, Bookmans Ina Customer Service Supervisor
I seek literature that burns a hole in the core of my soul to inspire my writing. Anything that gives me that shiver up my spine is worth a read. Through my journey into the world of literature, I’ve found few authors who drive me to write more. I relate the practice to a transcendental experience through the human soul. One author does this for me and his name is Bill Shields.
Not a lot of people know of Shields’ work. He released a handful of books through Henry Rollins’ publishing house, 2.13.61. I’ve only found his books online or in the depths of Bookmans’ orange shelves. They glow with a deep, shimmering aura.
Shields is an ex-Navy Seal who served three tours in Vietnam. He suffers from PTSD and an assortment of addictions. When you read his work, it bleeds from the page onto your hands. You feel his pain in every stanza. He writes about Vietnam, his mother dying from alcoholism and his chronic nightmares.
a mild cigarette hanging limp forgotten and lit
your eyes wired into the high-voltage of last night’s dreams
bulging from the horror of my war
There is nothing I can do
my wounded have filled the beds of a hundred apartments
their blood trails have followed me from California
& just this morning I found two more marines in our back
bedroom hanging in the concertina
& I pulled the covers over their eyes.
The first time I read his poems, I couldn’t help but fall into a deep depression. Every moment is a cathartic experience filled with anxiety and pain. One poem I’ll never forget relates the death of his daughter from his exposure to Agent Orange and how he held her one last time in a Baskin Robbins a few days before she died. Even reminiscing about it makes my heart ache.
Shields isn’t for the faint of heart. He takes you places your mind has never ventured. He reminds you that your life is worth living and everything will be okay. One day you’ll realize that reality is a harsh, cold place with no way out, but continue fighting. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.
* Bookmans is your store to explore. If you are looking for Bill Shields or other poetry anthologies, please give us a call and we will check our shelves for you. Otherwise, we hope you will come and browse.
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