by Leigh Chadwick
I first came across Shane Kowalski’s writing while doom-scrolling through Leigh Chadwick’s Twitter feed. It was a piece of flash fiction—nothing more than a slight paragraph. It’s been months since I read that piece of Shane Kowalski’s writing on Leigh Chadwick’s Twitter feed, and I can’t remember a single word—not one simple detail about the piece, though I know it was full of words, that paragraph of flash I read on Leigh Chadwick’s Twitter feed, and I know that I liked the words Shane Kowalski wrote that I read on Leigh Chadwick’s Twitter feed, even if I couldn’t tell you a single one of those words, much less what the piece was about.
Shane Kowalski works for the United States Postal Service. This matters absolutely none. At the time of writing this review, Shane Kowalski’s profile picture on Twitter is an extreme closeup of his face. The exposure in the photograph is so dark, you have to squint to realize there is more to the picture than just darkness, a black hole, a car wreck in the middle of a tunnel. Shane Kowalski is there, but barely. What I’m trying to say is that when I went on Leigh Chadwick’s Twitter and saw the retweet of a short piece Shane Kowalski wrote and shared on his timeline, I thought what Leigh Chadwick thought: This is some good shit that doesn’t make any sense, which is most likely why I think it’s some good shit.
If I had been asked to blurb Small Moods, it might’ve gone something like this: “If you buy Shane Kowalski’s Small Moods and only read the first sentence of each story in the collection, it would still be worth at least seventy percent of what you paid, including the cost of shipping.”
Leigh Chadwick’s debut poetry collection Your Favorite Poet will be released by Malarkey Books this July. It is a phenomenal collection—original and moving and filled with poems blooming beauty that tastes. The book tastes. The poems that make up the collection breathe and eat and fuck and hide behind walls from what comes out of guns.
Here is what Leigh Chadwick will have tweeted about Shane Kowalski’s Small Moods before this review has been published: “There is nothing small about Shane Kowalski’s new book Small Moods. It is a giant testament to the slightest fractures of what pierces, splinters, and breaks us into nothing but the beginning of what we never knew we wanted to be.”
What a stupid tweet.
Words so frail they are crumbs wiped under a dinner table.
Or as Shane might write: “Having sex with the mailman doesn’t get you your mail faster, is what Mother used to tell us.”
Right now, I am writing this review on my iPhone. My daughter is asleep, my husband, too. Outside is stardust. I am on the couch, nesting in a blanket of static. I am thinking about how I have never been stung by a bee. I am thinking about the orgasm I had last night, and how it was better than good. It is 1:41 a.m. and I am completely alone.
Here are some lines from Small Moods that Leigh Chadwick is jealous she did not write:
“I am like a dollar bill in the shape of a swan on fire.” (“Try and Stop Me”)
“The sun’s throat has been slit across the beach.” (“The Greatest”)
“John the Baptist was decapitated by a man who had a foot fetish.” (“The Second Executioner”)
“A shoe told me to die once.” (“Just Die”)
“The beach turned out to be a beached whale…” (“Beached”)
“I am very in love with people who seem to always be at home.” (“Why I Love The Hand Lady”)
“I am not the greatest, but I am like the candle that gives out darkness.” (“The Greatest”)
“I kneel here licking the doorknob you’ve just touched to leave the room, but it won’t bring you back.” (“Trust And Understanding”)
“How do we stop ourselves from stopping ourselves from being gentle?” (“A Humid Fugue”)
Small Moods is a good title for a book. Your Favorite Poet is a better title for a book. Don’t hold that against Shane Kowalski. Shane Kowalski is not Leigh Chadwick, and that is okay. Shane Kowalski is Shane Kowalski and Leigh Chadwick is good to know him, which makes literature good to know.
And so I end Leigh Chadwick’s review of Shane Kowalski’s Small Moods here: You will be lucky to share your home with Shane Kowalski, watching him sleep on your bookshelf, nestled between Leigh Chadwick’s Your Favorite Poet and Leigh Chadwick’s Daughters of the State.
Find out more about Small Moods here: Small Moods by Shane Kowalski
Leigh Chadwick is the author of the chapbook Daughters of the State (Bottlecap Press, 2021) and the poetry coloring book This Is How We Learn to Pray, illustrated by Stephanie Kirsten. Her forthcoming books include her debut poetry collection Your Favorite Poet (Malarkey Books, 2022) and the collaborative poetry collection Too Much Tongue (Autofocus, 2022), co-written with Adrienne Marie Barrios. Leigh’s poetry has appeared in Salamander, Passages North, The Indianapolis Review, HAD, Reservoir Road, and Hobart. She can be found online at www.leighchadwick.com