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1 Burnside Poetry- A to Z

Vigil

by

Vigil Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The New York Times Book Review praised Alan Shapiro's The Last Happy Occasion as a "touching and intelligent, emotionally satisfying and elegant testimony to the power of poetry to instruct, heal and inspire." Vigi emerges from the final chapter of that book, "Sittin' in a Funeral Place," a powerful essay about Shapiro's sister Beth, her struggle with breast cancer, and the limitations of poetry in confronting the untransformable pain of loss.

In Vigil, Shapiro chronicles with heart-wrenching lyricism the final four weeks of Beth's life in a hospice, attended by her parents, brothers, husband, daughter and friends. One by one, as loved ones arrive to visit Beth, Shapiro reveals fragments of their personal history, bringing to life a troubled and poignant past. A visit from their brother David triggers the memory of a searing betrayal—the parents disowned Beth after learning from David that she was secretly dating a black man; a visit from the parents recalls their bitter quarrels over Beth's radical politics; a visit from Beth's black husband brings the painful memory of their wedding and her parents' refusal to attend. These recollections and feelings that surface with each visit evoke the unresolved, deeply disturbing issues that kept the Shapiro family estranged for so long, making the reconciliation that Beth's death brings to her family all the more extraordinary.

Shapiro gives an unconventionally honest account of our responses—horror, relief, impatience, exhaustion, exhilaration, projection, fear, self-criticism, and a sense of fulfillment—in the presence of the dying. Concluding with a selection of moving poems, Shapiro affirms the astonishing link between creativity and healing, and provides a coda to the whole experience. The price of human connection may be great, but human connection, in the end, has the power to redeem even the most painful of human experiences.

Book News Annotation:

A brother's story of his sister's last weeks in a hospice as her family try to come to terms with her terminal cancer and reconcile their shared and often scarred histories. For general readers. No index.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

About the Author

Alan Shapiro has published eleven books of poetry, most recently Night of the Republic, a finalist for the National Book Award and the Griffin Prize, and Old War, winner of the Ambassador Book Award. He teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

The Vision

The Taxi Driver

The Consolation

The Walk

The Doctor

The Joke

The Trial

The Birthday

The Dance

The Elevator

The Celebration

The Daughter

The Death

The Wedding

Afterwords: Poems

Product Details

ISBN:
9780226750347
Author:
Shapiro, Alan
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Location:
Chicago :
Subject:
Biography
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Jews
Subject:
Medical
Subject:
Poets
Subject:
Terminally ill
Subject:
Poets, American
Subject:
Interracial marriage
Subject:
Jews -- United States -- Biography.
Subject:
Medical - General
Subject:
Health
Subject:
Poets, American -- 20th century -- Biography.
Subject:
Biography/Medical
Copyright:
Edition Description:
1
Series Volume:
no. 457/458
Publication Date:
19971031
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
146
Dimensions:
8 x 5.25 x 0.6 in

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Related Subjects

Biography » Medical
Biography » Women
Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » A to Z

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