The Arc of the Day/The Imperfectionist

Steve Shrader (1945-2007) grew up in Ohio, graduated from Oberlin College and the University of Iowa (MFA), then lived out the rest of his life on Waimanalo Beach on O`ahu, working as a university instructor of English, a journalist, and a graphic designer. His first book of poems, Leaving By the Closet Door, was published by Ithaca House in 1970.

About the Cover Image: "Not only a writer and graphic artist, Shrader was also an avid photographer. I had access to a large number of his photos. Selecting prints he'd made multiples of, along with those that caught my eye, I started laying out the cover. The design was meant to display as much of his work as possible, a manifest of sorts, while complementing the book's interior layout." Allison Hanabusa

The Arc of the Day/The Imperfectionist
By Steve Shrader • 2013 • $24
Introduction by Susan M. Schultz
Afterward by Warren Iwasa


Steve Shrader’s subtle and accomplished poetic thinking casts a far wider net than the Hawaiian islands—it ponders literature, music, history, politics, the world of ideas generally—but ultimately, as he tells us, poetry like politics is local. Local for Shrader meant that ironwood-bordered Waimanalo beach where a man sees a biplane pilot skywriting, where he watches his son “afloat, asleep upon the wrinkled and gently sloping surface of an ocean,” where the same man “enters the sea, portal to true peace/his only baggage, red trunks.” The poems in The Arc of the Day are the strong/delicate work of an ironist distilling the air, sky, water of a maximalist landscape into their minimalist essence. The later, longer poems of The Imperfectionist, in contrast, are rich dense narratives foregrounding character and voice, substantial evidence of the strong new direction his talent was taking him. These two collections, each exceptional in its own way, are bookended by a first-rate critical analysis and an insightful memoir, making this poet’s final volume a four-in-one-treasure.

—Victoria Nelson, author of My Time in Hawai’i: A Polynesian Memoir

from The Arc of the Day:

Mushroom Child
for Shomei Tomatsu

as far as my parents were concerned
I was the Manhattan project
as is their grandson
out of the loins of Hiroshima

language will not shield us
from that flash which half cripples us
nor from the annealing flesh resembling
animated glass

indolent on the court, arcing spheres
through circles, shooting hoops
spinning on the rim and dropping in or out

fusion’s offspring, mixed son
of whatever transforms the elemental
into the complex

from The Imperfectionist:

Data Migration

we’re out at dusk image gathering
pale ones and the brilliant fading
small fleshy ones and one as hard as rock
that falls from the sky in a tongue of flame

I pick it up between thumb and forefinger
hold it to the waning light
there are swirls in it like marbling
it’s ticking like a metronome

you’ve found one that’s purring
another that reminds you of a snowflake
because it has no duplicate
all the way down to its platonic core

you carry a woven wicker basket with a handle
I have a felt drawstring pouch
later we’ll mix what we’ve gathered
with the lights out and our heads in our pillows