foreword by Mark Doty
Volume 6 of the May Swenson Poetry Award Series, 2002
The Owl Question underscores and relishes life's transitions from young girl to woman, from child to wife to mother, and from isolation to connection. This poet's bright sense of abundance and awe, here expressed in finely tuned detail and refreshingly open observation, reads like a collective memory. Though private and closely held, these questionings are as familiar as our own souls, and in their transformation to poetry, Shearin has created the very "map" she wishes to guide her when she "can't learn the world fast enough."
Judge for the competition was Mark Doty, internationally known poet and winner of the Bingham Poetry Prize, the T. S. Eliot Prize, and many other major poetry awards. In the foreword, Doty writes of Shearin's poetry: "What she wishes, wisely, is to be able to love and to see clearly at once. She understands that to do so will require all her resources: irony, good cheer, truthfulness, humor and a carefully preserved attention to the strangeness of living, the pecularity of all enterprises. The result is a lovely, trustworthy first book, full of affection and wry clarity, 'all life's finite hope leaning closer for a kiss.'"