Stately and majestic, yet scuffed with wear and disillusion, the poems of Smaller Hours mount the sky like columns and fora of some archaic ruin. Through these ancient halls, Kevin Shaw tracks Eros, clearing away the rubble and polishing the marble, along the way exploring queer ways of keeping time. Music and movies, clocks and inventors populate these poems. History casts a shadow over all.
Kevin Shaw's debut collection is a tour de force of control and grace; musical lines anchored by powerful rhythms dance into the reader's ear. The speakers of these lyrics encounter Nijinsky in a waiting room, Ovid at the laundromat, or re-enact a devastating flood after a night of drinking. From a mixtape full of quarter-century-old regrets, to the sensuality of a harmonica buzzing against pursed lips, to the violence and hope of Stonewall, Smaller Hours collapses the past with the present and the personal with the public, taking a sideways glance at historical figures — inventors, poets, movie stars — from across a gay bar's crowded dance floor.
"Five decades after Edward A. Lacey self-published Forms of Loss, English Canada’s first book of gay-male poetry, meet Kevin Shaw. The challenges of being gay may have changed—a little (we still must choose to come out)—but the candour with which queer experience is now limned is given equally rich voice in Smaller Hours. Shaw is a poet worth waiting for."
"Even though the focus of the book is the gay experience, Smaller Hours uses the full resources of poetry to create a wider human, artistic statement about self-discovery, identity, disappointment, acceptance, and the unsteady playing out of love within the context of history."
"Incantatory music box, intricate as a mechanical watch and wrestling with its melodies, Smaller Hours takes us along the edge of the small and violent disasters that are men."