"These poems take great pleasure in the tension between the ripeness of the present moment and the grandeur of a past that refuses to completely disappear. Tasting both melancholy and intense joy, these are odes to the impossible but seemingly intrinsic human quest for eternity. Schaffer asks a question about afterlives, “How does one locate the source of / a fire when it has already combusted?” This lively, perceptive collection by a young poet attuned to the hallucinatory nature of an ancient city is a dedication to the eros of slow erosion, “dreams of duality / the ruined and the pristine.”

-Sun Yung Shin, author of Unbearable Splendor


"Schaffer’s poems navigate a city of contradictions. The narrator, like all who live in this city, moves among the ruins of an illustrious past she cannot reach out and touch: in this city, presence and absence are one and the same. And yet this paradox offers the poet her most playful, dazzling surprises. Observing the “tight-lipped leer” of a statue, its “ligaments taught / from supporting the weight / of an artistic transition” the narrator plummets into a new stanza where “the future contemplates the Kritios Boys / leans in contrapposto / and is frozen in time.” Even the future falls for this past, arrested by the boy’s beauty. But the poem does not surrender to nostalgia: the narrator, contemplating the long-dead artist, realizes “we each have duality / weighing upon us.” The beauty of contradiction belongs also to her, the present casts its own shadow. Resisting ornament, Schaffer chooses the ruins as they are, the place of the relationship as it is — a site where future, present, and past all stake their claim."

-Jessica Harkins, author of The Paled Guest


About the Author


Lindsey is a writer and contributor to Cobalt, Runestone, Matonym Literary Journal, and more. In 2020 she was a receipient of The Manitou Fellowship through the College of Saint Benedict. She is currently enrolled in Tufts University's Museum Education program where she is exploring the various narratives found within museum collections.



Page numbers: 28

Publication date: March 2022

ISBN: 978-1-7398761-5-9

Genre: Poetry

Cover art & design: Chelsea Schaffer

City of Contradiction by Lindsey Schaffer