Shame Is an Ocean I Swim Across: Poems by Mary Lambert
In 2012, Mary Lambert was working three restaurant jobs when her life changed. An aspiring singer-songwriter, cellist, spoken word artist, and graduated with a Bachelors of Music Composition from Cornish College of the Arts, she had begun to establish herself around Seattle, performing slam poetry and fusing a talk-singing style into her intimate performances. She received a phone call from a friend who was working with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on their debut album, The Heist. Macklemore and Lewis were struggling to write a chorus for their new song, a marriage-equality anthem, called “Same Love”. Lambert had three hours to write the hook, and the result was the transcendent chorus to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ triple-platinum hit “Same Love,” which Lambert wrote from her vantage point of being both a Christian and a lesbian.
Writing and singing the hook led to two Grammy nominations for “Song Of The Year” and “Album Of The Year”, as well as the iconic performance alongside pop legend Madonna at the 2014 Grammys. Mary then signed with Capitol Records, where she released her debut album “Heart on My Sleeve” produced by Eric Rosse (Sara Bareilles, Tori Amos) and Benny Cassette (Kanye West). Her smash single, “Secrets” launched to No. 1 on the Billboard Dance charts, and was certified RIAA Gold in 2015. The New York Times called her debut album “refreshing and severely personal”.
Mary Lambert isn’t your typical pop artist. Inspired by confessional folk singers as well as spoken-word performers, she is a brutally candid writer who deals directly in her art with her past traumas. Lambert was raised in an abusive home, attempted suicide at 17, turned to drugs and alcohol before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and survived multiple sexual assaults throughout her childhood. With a list of horrors, you wouldn’t expect Mary to be disarmingly joyful, but she charms effortlessly, and the effect on her audience is bewitching. She describes her performances as “safe spaces where crying is encouraged.
Beautiful and brutally honest, Mary Lambert's poetry is a beacon to anyone who's ever been knocked down―and picked themselves up again. In verse that deals with sexual assault, mental illness, and body acceptance, Ms. Lambert emerges as an important new voice in poetry, providing strength and resilience even in the darkest of times.