Cleveland State University Poetry Center

Muleby Shane McCrae



by Shane McCrae

Mule is actually a very personal, very autobiographical book. In it, the author addresses his at the time failing second marriage (which he is no longer in), his son’s autism, his own racial identity, and some of his beliefs about God.

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A review from the The Daily Iowan

Verse Daily Review

The lit pub Review

Gently Read Literature

First Book Interviews

In Quire Review

Kenyon Review

Last minute gift options for local readers: Iowa City Press Citizen

Congratulations to Shane McCrae, author of Mule, and Elyse Fenton, author of Clamor, whose books are on the 2011 SPD annual poetry bestseller list, at #25 and #3, respectively!

A new review of Shane McCrae's MULE at The Southeast Review Online.

Check out this interview with Poetry Center author Shane McCrae at Puerto Del Sol Bloga.

Congratulations toShane McCrae for having been a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Awards for his collection MULE.



Shane McCrae is the author of the chapbooks One Neither One (Octopus Books) and In Canaan (Rescue Press). His work has appeared in African American Review, Agni, The American Poetry Review, Denver Quarterly, Effing Magazine, Typo and The Best American Poetry 2010. He holds degrees from Linfield College, the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, and Harvard Law School, and is currently pursuing a PhD in English at the University of Iowa. He is married, and has three children.



[We Married in a Thorax]

We married in a thorax no idea
What kind of bug a flying bug we married off the ground
we married in the air
We married over a trailer park by the sea
At sundown         
by the sea and somewhere west
A western state at the edge of the west the night
Becoming morning facing         
west the night
Becoming something unfamiliar as
The night was unfamiliar where we lay
The night before the day we married in
A thorax hovering no         
judge no minister no pilot and no guide no way
Out the wings drowning out         
the sea our voices no vows just         
the living body's noise



“Some books come down like gods dying to transform us out of our empty, shattered lives. Mule is such a book. Never shying away from sudden confusions of pain and beauty, Shane McCrae’s questions are not why so much pain? why so much beauty? but, instead, how can they remake us? McCrae’s is a living, breathing poetry made of wisdom and wrenching song.”
—Katie Ford

“Syntax is the facility of the soul, O’Hara taught us, and somehow in the first decade of the 21st century, our poets decided to separate syntax and what compels us, as if the two weren’t of the same element—as if we read no Berryman and memorized no Shakespeare, and as if their punctuation did not stop our breath! What a joy now to discover a voice such as Shane McCrae’s, who in this first decade of a new century finds his new music, and compels us with its outbursts and heartbreak and yells and stuttering of joy and its sudden clarity of perception that is like no other. Shane McCrae is a master.”
—Ilya Kaminsky

“In his first book, Mule, Shane McCrae admits us to the marriage of impediments (‘Half donkey and half human being’) in a country that too often insists on fracture over union. McCrae’s ‘mulatto’ sings us through mash-ups of race and class, even as he divorces us from ‘the bud and green of May,’ its more random cruelties and collateral damage. ‘You / Will recognize yourself in the singing you / Will not recognize yourself in the songs,’ he says, but (because he is a singer of prodigious gifts) we do—and in that inlet of recognition we are goners. Mule is a splendid and heartbreaking debut.”
—Rachel Loden

“This astonishing, extremely beautiful book is, in a way, a new twist on the epithalamion, tracing the innumerable and inescapable marriages that fissure our lives. And it traces them with an eerie repetitive force that, while echoing the edgier experiments of Modernism, still manages to feel utterly unfamiliar. It’s a book both haunted and haunting—possessed by sound and its tremendous momentum, that somehow-suspended momentum, hypnotic in its rhythms and compelling in its headlong fall into the truth of the heart.”
—Cole Swensen