Dead Shark on the N Train


THE BOOK: Dead Shark on the N Train.


THE AUTHOR: Susana H. Case.

SUMMARY:  I often write about love, gender, objectification, and violence. There are three sections to the book. The first section is organized around the idea of the stereotype of the living doll, and rebellion against that concept. The middle section, an ekphrastic section, is inspired by the life and the nutshell studies, crime model constructions, of Frances Glessner Lee, “mother of modern forensics,” and includes some black and white images of her works that are in the public domain. There is even a cocktail recipe in the section. The third section, which includes the title poem, focuses more fully on the negative effects of objectified existence.

About Susana H. CaseTHE BACK STORY:  This is my seventh full-length poetry book and I have also written a number of chapbooks. My interests continue in this collection. An interest of mine I haven’t yet mentioned is historically-inspired poetry and the middle section of this book is based upon a mid-twentieth-century woman, as mentioned above. It’s been three years since my last poetry book, Drugstore Blue, though in between I published a coffee table book of erasure poems and a chapbook, so I’d have to say three years possibly, or, on the other hand, it took my entire life to write this.
WHY THIS TITLE?: The title is from a poem in the collection. The poem was inspired by an actual event, someone bringing a shark onto the New York City metro. There are many unusual things that have happened in the New York City subway system and this was one of them.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Poetry in its essence has a niche audience. The poems in this collection are narrative, partly ekphrastic, sometimes funny, but, in looking at the ways in which violence and injustice are rooted in our lives, very very serious.


From Karen Alenier, Scene 4:

(Other reviews are in the works, but not yet published so I included the blurbs here):

“Susana H. Case is a poet at the peak of her craft. Her previous books and chapbooks have each depicted with skill her artistic obsessions—ruthlessness of time, the juxtaposition between one’s public persona and the self, injustices of society, and all the small or enormous acts of violence towards women and girls—with intelligence, empathy, and unsentimental precision. The poems in this collection sing even louder with these truths.

In the second poem of the book, she writes, ‘I know/ that to be my own salvation,/ I have to get down from the mountain/ before dark. Dead Shark on the N Train takes us from Queens to destinations beyond, as she contemplates Marilyn Monroe, Maria Callas, school shootings, an estranged friend dying of cancer, and the unforgettable crime scene dioramas of Glessner Lee. What results is a fugue of contemporary American chaos in all its beauty and brutality. I learn a lot from reading Case’s poetry. Above all, Dead Shark implores us to each be our own salvation.”—Jennifer Franklin, author of No Small Gift (Four Way Books)

In this sassy, gorgeous book, Susana H. Case takes us on one helluva ride with a dead shark as fellow passenger, brought in from the beach and left on the floor of the N Train, its jaw decorated with a Metro Card, a cigarette and a can of Red Bull. The shark is just one of the stars of Case’s seventh volume of poems. Consider, as well, “Radiance,” a scorcher of a poem about a breast: “Lie with me, lie to me,/ until your tongue burns.”

If you haven’t met up with Case’s work, it’s time you did. Detective, adventurer, world traveler, professor, connoisseur of cities, of love and mystery: there is poetry here you’ve never encountered before. In one section, Case raids the minute details of crime-scene dioramas created midcentury by the late Frances Glessner Lee. In Case’s lyrics, they are studies in mayhem, murder, and blood. Who would have guessed that these two artists would give us such a long distance, magical, and utterly original collaboration?—David Tucker, author of Late for Work (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

Susana H. Case is turning into a seasoned private eye, observing lives as she leaves Queens to live across the river, but within eyeshot of her roots and the lessons of adolescence. She travels to distant geographies—the Indian subcontinent, South America, Europe—returning to paint indelible, sardonic portraits of humans and their foibles. She writes with a realist painter’s attention to gesture and tic. The truths Case reveals about bondage and freedom are as compelling as the sight of a dead shark riding the N train.

A victory of sorts, the dead shark. The poet is writing her most energetic, and clearly sketched, poems in this, her strongest volume to date.—Indran Amirthanayagam, author of Coconuts on Mars (Paperwall).

AUTHOR PROFILE: Susana H. Case lives in the middle of New York City with her artist husband and works as a university professor and campus program coordinator at the New York Institute of Technology’s New York City campus. She travels widely, which is evident in the varied settings of her poems, though the poems are never merely about the settings, but inspired by geography to link to larger issues of the ways in which we struggle with how to live. She teaches about gender and that interest flows through her poetry as well. Dead Shark on the N Train is her seventh poetry book. Her poetry career got its start when she won the Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Competition in 2002 for her collection, “The Scottish Café, a series of poems centered around mathematics in prewar Poland, which was later republished in a dual Polish-English version by the University of Opole Press. Right now, of course, she is sheltering at home.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: I write for my own entertainment, but I hope also to entertain others and to provide a means to facilitate a reader’s thinking. These poems are accessible, not overly theoretical or academic. For those interested in the ways women navigate the world, I hope there is something here for that reader. If you are interested in a virtual visit to your bookclub, blog visit, interview, reading series, or other event, please contact me via the information in “Contact the Author” below.
SAMPLE CHAPTER: You can cut and paste on the template or refer readers to your Amazon page. My Amazon page is here:     A sample from the book with video can be found here:
WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & noble, etc. Available from Amazon, Broadstone Books (, Small Press Distribution (
PRICE: The best price is $16.95 direct from the publisher, $22.50 retail.
CONTACT THE AUTHOR:  There is a Contact form on my website:  On Facebook:  On twitter (though I don’t use it as much as Facebook): @susana_h_case.

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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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