Miss Meghan, Fashion Advice

August 30, 2007


The Academy of American Poets asked me to comment on my favorite shoe poems.

Oh! Poems AND Shoes! Two of my most favorite things together. Like Oreos and Milk or a pair of Wolford tights and my new Louboutins!

Favorite Fit: A Shoe Expert Tries on Poetry
by Meghan Cleary

Poetry is the delicious linguistic and oral art of transformation, taking one thing and holding it in light or dark and watching it transmute. These poems do that for shoes, every prism of the shoe is explored and illuminated so that we have a new taste on the tongue for an object that ranges from the mundane to the iconic, from the practical and functional, to the beautiful and seductive. This much is true: you cannot deny the power of the shoe.

J. Renee Cobblestone Printed Leather Peep Toe Wedge

"Red Slippers" by Amy Lowell

Red slippers in a shop-window; and outside in the street, flaws of gray, windy sleet!

Behind the polished glass the slippers hang in long threads of red, festooning from the ceiling like stalactites of blood, flooding the eyes of passers-by with dripping color, jamming their crimson reflections against the windows of cabs and tram-cars, screaming their claret and salmon into the teeth of the sleet, plopping their little round maroon lights upon the tops of umbrellas.

The row of white, sparkling shop-fronts is gashed and bleeding, it bleeds red slippers. They spout under the electric light, fluid and fluctuating, a hot rain—and freeze again to red slippers, myriadly multiplied in the mirror side of the window.

They balance upon arched insteps like springing bridges of crimson lacquer; they swing up over curved heels like whirling tanagers sucked in a wind-pocket; they flatten out, heelless, like July ponds, flared and burnished by red rockets.

Snap, snap, they are cracker sparks of scarlet in the white, monotonous block of shops.

They plunge the clangor of billions of vermilion trumpets into the crowd outside, and echo in faint rose over the pavement.

People hurry by, for these are only shoes, and in a window farther down is a big lotus bud of cardboard, whose petals open every few minutes and reveal a wax doll, with staring bead eyes and flaxen hair, lolling awkwardly in its flower chair.

One has often seen shoes, but whoever saw a cardboard lotus bud before?

The flaws of gray, windy sleet beat on the shop-window where there are only red slippers.

Much like the moment in "Sex and the City" when Carrie Bradshaw peers into the shoe shop window and sultrily addresses a pair of heels through the glass as "Hello, lo-vah," this poem perfectly captures the iconic status of the shoe—especially for women. It hones in precisely on the shoe as a fantasy, an aspiration, an untouchable object of desire. By contrasting the gray and white of the everyday world of shops and windy sleet against the "crimson lacquer," the "stalactites of blood," the "red rockets" of these slippers hanging in the window, she heightens the shoe to this intense, pulsing otherworldly object, held just beyond reach, behind glass.

Read the rest of the article here, at the Academy of American Poets fab website.