life as a dark fairy tale


“He wrote on everything,” says archivist Joy Kingsolver. She has pulled a flat box labeled “Work in Progress” down from a shelf, set it on a table, and—pushing her gold-rimmed glasses up the ridge of her nose—opened it to reveal a heap of scrap paper covered with narrow, urgent handwriting. “He wrote on menus, napkins, restaurant placemats, paperbacks. Anything that was available.” She leafs through the box and picks up a bank deposit slip. In the upper left-hand corner, it reads SHEL SILVERSTEIN in blocky type. A few lines of lyrics are scrawled across it: a quick sketch for a song—or maybe a poem—about a bank robbery. This little piece of paper is one of Joy’s favorite artifacts in the whole Silverstein Archive, a collection of the author’s manuscripts, sketches, demo recordings, and ephemera that she helps to oversee. “I imagine him standing in line at the bank, bored, and composing it,” she says. “He just continuously wrote and wrote and wrote. There’s a constant creative flow. It never seemed to stop.”

more from Delaney Hall at Poetry here.