Press 53 . PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130-0314
Useful Information for the
by Shivani Mehta
A Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection
9 x 6 paperback, 90 pages
“The marvelous prose poems in Shivani Mehta’s debut collection live at the intersection of language and imagery. Even if you won’t be losing your head anytime soon, Useful Information for the Soon-to-be Beheaded should be mandatory reading for anyone interested in spending some time with a wild imagination set to beautiful use.”
—Rick Bursky, author of Death Obscura
“Shivani Mehta’s Useful Information for the Soon-to-Be Beheaded is full of useful information on how to write a prose poem. Mehta strikes a perfect pitch between memory and magic. These are separate poems in the fabulist tradition, but the book also has interwoven threads that form a tale or a novel in prose poems. Her opening sentences are doors that open on surprise. Her last sentences spring open and shut like a trapdoor beneath your feet, and you find yourself falling, falling and pleasingly confounded.”
—Richard Garcia, author of Chickenhead: Prose Poems
Shivani Mehta was born in Mumbai and raised in Singapore. She moved to New York to attend Hamilton College and then earned a Juris Doctor from Syracuse University College of Law. Her prose poems have appeared in Narrative Magazine, Coachella Review, Cold Mountain Review, Fjord’s Review, Hotel Amerika, The Prose Poem Project, The Normal School, Used Furniture Review, Generations Literary Journal, Midwest Quarterly Review, and Painted Bride Quarterly. Shivani is the accomplished mother of toddler twins. Incredibly, they sleep long enough to allow her to write prose poems. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, children, dog, two cats, and several fish.
She has them in every size, color, style, and fabric, collects them like some people collect stamps. 34As, 36Cs, DDs, 40Fs, reds, yellows, apple blossom pinks, frilly ones, underwired, push-ups, trimmed in scallops, black with white lace overlay like her grandmother’s doilies. Sometimes she imagines a race of miniature people using the cups as parachutes. Lingerie overflows out of her basement, spills into the house and hangs from ceiling fans in every room, over the backs of dining table chairs. At dinner parties guests try not to look, gazing at the white tablecloth and place settings, blinking at the silverware polished to a reflective shine. But there’s no ignoring the indigo satin C-cup with rhinestone trim arranged carefully between the potatoes and the mushroom soup, or the centerpiece—cherry-red silk demi with black lace trim. She tried, once, to explain—it reminds her of what she’s lost.
You unzip my dress, a curve from the side of my left breast to the top of my hip. My body is a column of butterflies. One by one, roused by the light and cool air, they wake from sleep. One by one they open their wings, answering the instinct to be free. They scatter in all directions; I learn what it means to be in many places at once.