"...[W]e harbor collectively, / an intent / to harm. Impossible to acknowledge, much less speak," concludes poet Ravi Shankar in "Killers in Letters," an examination of the abyss that lies between fictional murderers and the all-too-real criminals who monopolize headlines and haunt our sleep. Using deceptively colloquial language and even humor, Shankar highlights our nearly universal fascination with violent death, a subject too often either sensationalized or pushed under the rug. Featuring an array of styles, perspectives, forms, and tones, Killer Verse
peers into every dark corner of this disturbing yet compulsively alluring crime.
According to the Judeo-Christian tradition, Cain slew his brother Abel, thus causing "the first death on earth, a violent death / that shattered the natural course of things / even before it was established. Violation preceded...
Beyond the Book
The chilling topic of filicide (the killing of one's child) casts a shadow over the pages of Killer Verse
, as it recurs throughout several sections of the book - most powerfully in Cornelius Eady's "Birthing," a key poem from his cycle, Brutal Imagination
, which was inspired by the murder of two young boys by their mother.
For nine days in the fall of 1994, the citizens of Union, South Carolina, as well as an increasing number of people throughout the United States, believed that Susan Smith had suffered the worst tragedy a mother could experience: the abduction of her two sons, Michael (age 3) and Alex (age 14 months), by a mysterious figure who had carjacked her at night on an abandoned road. Media coverage soon expanded from local news outlets to national...