Writer Poet Educator
Praise for WHAT I WOULD SAY IF WE WERE TO DROWN TONIGHT from Sheila Squillante: "The question at the center of Sharla Yates' beautiful new chapbook—'How do you brace yourself with no absolutes except this body?'—introduces us to a speaker filled with inquiry and yearning, regret and resolve. In letter poems and poems of direct address, we greet the newborn child, the uncle dying of AIDS, the old beloved and the new. We eavesdrop on intimacies—a mother recounting for her son his origin story, the death of a wild animal in the cold rushing water of Oregon’s Umpqua River, a woman climbing into the winter coat that belonged to her lover’s dead wife. In each, we sense weariness and skepticism, ('What if there is nothing after amen?') alongside an uneasy sort of faith: 'I tell myself/that there is beauty in sad endings.' Yates’ voice is meditative, her imagery fresh and her syntax surprising. This is a quiet, yet richly textured collection that considers our most important connections and questions with insight and clarity. A very fine debut by a talented poet."