The poems in Sheila Squillante's debut collection, Beautiful Nerve, are meant to unsettle. They draw on our anxieties and fears-somatic, linguistic, metaphoric-leading us somewhere somehow calming in its familiarity but troublingly unsteady: a bridge that ends abruptly as you cross it, the doomed deck of a haunted ship, a three-cornered room, the cutlery drawer, a table where you lie still beneath the surgeon's knife. Miscommunications and disorientations abound in these poems. Memories and dreams collide with nature and media, creating something superficially simple, but too unstable for us to ever get comfortable. "Look at the landscape for a while," they tell us. But then "pull out and be on your way."
Sheila Squillante directs the MFA program in creative writing at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, where she lives with her husband, their children, and a rangy, growing home of pets and plants, domestic and wild.