Smoking With Tomi Shaw

Read the Story March 15, 2005

Tell us more about “good ol’ boy justice.” I’ve got DELIVERANCE in mind.

Give a hayseed a dip or chew, a brew or two and watch him turn into a masochistic boar, eh? Remember there were unforgettable banjos and home cooked hospitality in Deliverance too. Modern sensibilities have made their way into the bush of some back neck wood; however, honor is honor, tradition is tradition and the need to answer a slight, an insult is as strong as when the Hatfields and McCoys warred their little war. Hate and fear are alive and kicking.

I think T.S. Eliot talked about an “objective correlative,” objects that act as the vehicle for the emotion of the story. Is the deer such an object?

Yes. The deer is beauty struck down.

“Because it’s tradition,” your narrator tells us, “I hugged and kissed each one of them before I left.” Tradition is a powerful force in the world; what’s its power in your world?

Some traditions ground my life; others make me write. As long as there is beauty and love in a tradition, I embrace it. I’ve spent the majority of my growing up as a “supposed to girl”—suppose to marry, suppose to mother, suppose to go to college, suppose to keep a good home—the list is so long I want to scream at it, rip my hair out, dig the deepest hole I can, bury it and never look at it again. Then along comes that niggling voice inside my head that reminds me in order to live well these things are musts. Passed down from grandmother to mother to me to mine, these behaviors are breathed in on the fragrance of BBQ and potato salad, biscuits and gravy, a recipe we never share but reconstruct all too easily.

How does your “ole Kentucky home” affect your writing? What aspects of it seep into your work, both consciously and subconsciously?

My relationship with Kentucky is the dichotomy that feeds my writing. I love it; I hate it. I want to get out; I never want to leave. It is beautiful; it is not. In other words, I’m exactly where I should be.

Summer weekends at the drag strip. That means something entirely different in my neck of the woods. What’s it mean in Kentucky?

Made me laugh. It means on certain Saturday afternoons, I plunk myself in my car, head out to the track and whup up on some gear head’s ragged out but horsed up ’69 Camaro, another’s sublime but smoked the tires off of it Malibu and secure my jewelry when the dude in his Steeda goes to sleep at the line. Men with their Hemis and blowers hate getting put out of the game by a chick in a stock Mustang; this is why I race.

About the Author:

Tomi Shaw lives in Kentucky, late of the woods but now in the big city lights. She loves the sound of rain tat-tattering on a tin roof. Summer weekends finds her at the drag strip in a bittersweet-colored Mustang, cutting killer reaction times and putting guys on the trailer home. Her work has appeared in Absinthe Literary Review, Flashquake, Snow Monkey, Wild Violet, Penthouse and elsewhere. Coming soon to Outsider Ink, Clean Sheets and Literary Mama.

About the Artist:

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison's work here.