On Shaving Off His Face
The human face is many things. It is a photograph, an identity, a disguise. It is pain’s currency. It is proof of life and death.
In his latest collection, On Shaving Off His Face, poet-physician Shane Neilson presents an album of faces, word portraits of maladies both physical and mental. Illness is acknowledged in the epileptic convulsions of a beloved son—and in the narrator’s pain-stricken reflection in a mirror. Psychiatry, medicine and religion are questioned, doubted, and finally accepted in terms of resistance. Famous clinicians speak alongside school shooters, depressed musicians, and a grieving father.
Raw, intense and unsettling, Neilson’s poems reveal and probe the ways in which we are recognized and categorized by those who interpret the maladies written on our faces.