Utne Blogs > Literature

Sex, Crime, Tabloids, and Poetry

 by Bennett Gordon


Tags: Great Writing, poetry, Penny Dreadful, Shannon Stewart, Maisonneuve,

The lurid and hyperbolic headlines of tabloid newspapers expose a seedy underbelly of human crime and voyeurism. For Shannon Stewart, that’s an inspiriation for poetry. “Sensationalistic news, as an often coarse and unrefined commodity, caters to our darkest fears and need,” Stewart told Maisonneuve. Penny Dreadful, Stewart’s new book of poetry, draws off these fears to create often funny poems that play with themes and headlines from tabloids like the Weekly World News. Rather than disengage from the horrific news, Stewart used her poetry to engage with it through humor. "For me," said Stewart, "the tabloid poems worked as a kind of painkiller." You can watch a video of Stewart reading two of her tabloid poems below: