Poet Steve Sibra Talks About 2022 Release, ‘Shoes for Baby’

Art by Steve Sibra

Swallow Books signed a new writer this month, whose absurdist art and poetry launches our series of interviews with prolific poets during National Poetry Month.

Steve Sibra sat down with editor, Jennifer Russon to talk about his upcoming title, ‘Shoes for Baby’, what it’s about, and the how and why behind conjuring this unique collection into existence.


Look for excerpt “Ladies of Yakima” at the end of this interview

Jen: Why poetry, not prose, for this wild ride through an old shoe store, with poems to slip into like the shoes we buy for rough terrains or special occasions?

Steve:  Poetry holds more mystery, more a sense of enigma. Open air floats around the words in poems, leaving the reader to fill in that gap. ‘Shoes for Baby’ illuminates ideas I wrote subconsciously. 

Jen: What do you mean? Could you tell us about one of your poetry idols who does this?

Steve: Though he’s a novelist, for me that’s Kafka. His micro fiction, THE BRIDGE, was about a bridge that spanned a raging river, stretched to its limit and in horrible pain. People were just casually strolling across it, unaware of its suffering.  In the end, the bridge collapses. 

Jen: So Kafka’s piece was like poetry for you, and you found a theme in it worthy of exploring in your own work?

Steve: Yes. I was in high school at the time, and also loved listening to The Doors. When Jim Morrison sang ‘I want to hear the scream of the butterfly’,  I thought of the agony in Kafka’s bridge. At that moment, the notion of poetry was born in me; the idea of voice in nonhuman forms like butterflies and bridges. 

Jen: Or shoes…Shoes for Baby?

Steve: A great segue into my title, thanks editor.  This book is like a closet full of shoes.  All different; some brand new, some broken in and worn, some worn to a frazzle.  Some of these shoes are funny, some are just surrealistic and bizarre, some are sobering, some are frightening, and so forth.  It is all about how the reader feels inside of them, where they take a person, and how the ride feels along the way. 

SNEAK PEEK from ‘Shoes for Baby’ Due by Spring, 2022

All Hail the Ladies of Yakima!
blonde 80s hair frames chipmunk cheeks
puffy with Corn Nuts and red meat malice
angel hair pasta spills from butcher shop eyes
 Watch now as they ride to challenge
 Rodeo Queens of Ellensburg
 the domain of Eastern Washington State hangs in the balance.
 Yakima hips bounce like horseback pinatas
 migrant workers flee in terror in the face
 of the saddlebags of sugary goodness.
 Aftermath eye shadow drips like river mud
 It crawls between your toes
 as the Ladies sit at your feet.
 Glue-on lashes slather the air
 with Butterball turkey fat
 Imagine that
 they slice through September sky like windmill blades
 Wild woman breath
 like a car crash on the back of your neck
 air fills with spurs that jingle jangle
 They ride now for Wenatchee
 to splatter the apple orchards with pine tar mascara
 and crippled baby bird sweat that slides along
 scarred crevice between their breasts
 It's a salty roller coaster ride
 with a wrecking ball finish
 to rival the Senior Center Easter Breakfast
 in Union Gap
 if you can picture that. 


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