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ISBN: 978-0-9970933-7-7
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Categories Chapbooks, Nomadic, Poetry

Score and Bone

Publication Date: October 2016


In June of 2023, Black Lawrence Press welcomed numerous existing and forthcoming Nomadic Press titles to our catalogue. Score and Bone was originally published by Nomadic.

Via two alternating voices—interior (observed) and narrative (observer)—that speak to one another, the striking, image–rich poems in Score and Bone‘s two sections delve into the subjects of film and perception, body and memory, and lead the reader through a visceral cinematic landscape.


The two halves of Score and Bone form either side of a mobius strip, two sides of a ribbon of perception and self-observation. As in the first poem, “Score,” with it gorgeously autonomous and slightly surreal images, the poems in the book’s eponymous first half have a filmic quality, as if directed and observed by an omnipotent narrator-self. The second half is made up of experiences, objects, and “The Treachery of Objects…”The poet observes herself recovering from major surgery, first as if on film, daily rushes, with quick cuts, and then she feels as the experience deeply means—“Isolate the pain, the size of a buffalo nickel”—staring steadily into the scar that is both companion and abyss. This is a deft, lovely, sometimes whimsical, poem-journal of recovery.
Joyce Jenkins, editor and Director of Poetry Flash

In Score and Bone, Maw Shein Win’s poems demonstrate a maturation of perspective, more considered risk taking, and a deepening of self-understanding. Written in a variety of free-verse forms, and largely in declarative, end-stopped lines (like film stills) that serve to modulate feeling and regulate the relentless tumble of images, Win’s poems simultaneously contain and displace, fragment and cohere, illuminate and constrain(“Morning glories beautify and suffocate the pine tree”). The speaker’s tone throughout is subdued, even dispassionate; feeling and story are conveyed obliquely via stark, stacked images (“The forest burns a violent red. Deer leap from the flames, singed flanks”). A pervasive sense of dislocation is tempered by references to the body, to the material. Ranging across subjects that include the dissolution of a marriage, alienation, dream and fantasy, and hip surgery, Score and Bone is “A hybrid, a mystery, a biopic” and represents Win’s coming into her own brave and singular voice.
Mari L’Esperance, author of The Darkened Temple

In Score and Bone Maw Shein Win reduces narrative, perception and memory to synecdoche and metonymy; reality is posed as a problem of scale (macro-to micro-scopic perceiving and remembering) and movement from part to part, object to object. These deceptively simple, simply evocative, poems remind us that we humans, a part of the cultural and natural worlds, are all differently abled. And those differences are too a manifestation of the known and unknown universe.
Tyrone Williams, author of Red Between Green (2015), Howell (2011), On Spec (2008) and other books and chapbooks

About the Author

Maw Shein Win

Maw Shein Win's most recent poetry collection is Storage Unit for the Spirit House (Omnidawn) which was nominated for the Northern California Book Award in Poetry, longlisted for the PEN America Open Book Award, and shortlisted for CALIBA's Golden Poppy Award for Poetry. Win's previous collections include Invisible Gifts and two chapbooks Ruins of a Glittering Palace and Score and Bone. Win’s Process Note Series features poets and their process. She is the inaugural poet laureate of El Cerrito, CA and teaches poetry in the MFA Program at the University of San Francisco. Win often collaborates with visual artists, musicians, and other writers and was recently selected as a 2023 YBCA 100 Honoree. Along with Dawn Angelicca Barcelona and Mary Volmer, she is a co-founder of Maker, Mentor, Muse, a new literary community. 

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