Synopses & Reviews
Praise for Alan Shapiro
“What makes Shapiro so important to American poetry right now is the success with which hes taken over the territory of fiction writers. While his poems maintain the compression and intensity of lyric, they also open to the twists and bursts of colloquial American speech, that mongrel medium with which we craft our lives together . . . His poems are both artful and unpretentious.”—Boston Review
[Shapiro] seeks what lies at the deepest level of the human heart.”—Chicago Tribune Books
“Mr. Shapiro is a shrewd and sympathetic moralist. He never trivializes his subjects with high-minded flourishes or stylistic gimmicks . . . [H]is seriousness is admirable . . . [and his] poems are not likely to be forgotten.”—New York Times
“[In Shapiros poems], the intensity of love at its height—love of another person, love of life itself—is what stays with the reader, with a depth and density that [is] one of Shapiros more outstanding achievements.”—Tikkun
“[Shapiro holds] fast to love and joy in an often unjust, brutal world.”—Washington Post
"A profound meditation on the elusiveness of happiness." Philadelphia Inquirer
"Alan Shapiro again dazzles us." Charlotte Observer
"Poet Alan Shapiro again dazzles us with his linguistic layups." --Dannye Romine Powell Charlotte Observer
Alan Shapiro is at his most passionate in this collection. A work full of life, jealousy, lust, and romantic abandon, Tantalus in Love begins with the sorrow of a disintegrating marriage, with its anger and suspicion, its hurt and rage, but moves on to celebrate the resilience of love after loss and the awakening glory of an amorous middle age. Reinventing myth and symbol in lyrical portraits of astounding resonance, Shapiro's poems yearn with hesitant love, heated at renewal, fragile but intensified by past experience of love's evanescence and uncertainty."A profound meditation on the elusiveness of happiness." Philadelphia Inquirer
"Alan Shapiro again dazzles us." Charlotte Observer
“A book about continuity and endings—marked by gratitude for the connections and illusions that keep consciousness aloft, as well as attempts to imagine the end of consciousness and the forces that both allow for and erode all life. . . . [Shapiros] vision of reality has grown to include the rich, imperfect images of reality we create, and as his poems have come to enact the intricate, reflexive vitality of such creation—even now, maybe especially now, as they increasingly contemplate the total loss of vitality.”
"Shapiro is a master of the middle tone (as well as most of the formal techniques in poetry’s capacious toolbox), and he probes the deeper places of the self with a skilled psychologist’s gentle persistence. A delicately disquieting collection."
An urgent and timely collection by one of Americas most inventive and accessible poets
In Night of the Republic, Alan Shapiro takes us on an unsettling night tour of Americas public places—a gas station restroom, shoe store, convention hall, and race track among others—and in stark Edward Hopper-like imagery reveals the surreal and dreamlike features of these familiar but empty night spaces. Shapiro finds in them not the expected alienation but rather an odd, companionable solitude rising up from the quiet emptiness.
In other poems, Shapiro writes movingly of his 1950s and 60s childhood in Brookline, Massachusetts, with special focus on the house he grew up in. These meditations, always inflected with Shapiros quick wit and humor, lead to recollections of tragic and haunting events such as the Cuban missile crisis and the assassination of JFK. While Night of the Republic is Shapiros most ambitious work to date, it is also his most timely and urgent for the acute way it illuminates the mingling of private obsessions with public space.
Alan Shapiro is at his most passionate in this collection. A work full of life, jealousy, lust, and romantic abandon, Tantalus in Love begins with the sorrow of a disintegrating marriage, with its anger and suspicion, its hurt and rage, but moves on to celebrate the resilience of love after loss and the awakening glory of an amorous middle age. Reinventing myth and symbol in lyrical portraits of astounding resonance, Shapiro's poems yearn with hesitant love, heated at renewal, fragile but intensified by past experience of love's evanescence and uncertainty.
Alan Shapiro's seventh collection celebrates art as a woefully inadequate yet necessary source of comfort. "Amazingly sensitive and tough-minded" (Tom Sleigh), the poems in Song and Dance intimately describe the complicated feelings that attend the catastrophic loss of a loved one. In 1998, Shapiro's brother, David, an actor on Broadway, was diagnosed with an incurable form of brain cancer. Song and Dance recounts the poet's emotional journey through the last months of his brother's life, exploring feelings too often ignored in official accounts of grief: horror, relief, impatience, exhaustion, exhilaration, fear, self-criticism, fulfillment.
From a winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award, a new collection that explores the vagaries of love and the place of beauty in a time of war.
In October 2002, at the age of fifty, Alan Shapiro collapsed while playing basketball. A few months later, on the eve of Americas invasion of Iraq, he remarried. The beginning of this happy chapter of his life coincided with a keen reminder of his own mortality and the menacing nature of the times we live in. The poems in Old War, Shapiros ninth and most innovative collection, were written under the double aspect of love and fear, of hope that comes with any fresh start and the sense that history will eventually undo or destroy whatever we struggle to make. Through an impressive variety of forms and styles, from first-person lyrics to dramatic monologues spoken by characters ranging from a country and western singer to a Jewish comic doing standup in heaven, they cast brilliant light on the nature of art, love, and family in a world defined by brutality, deception, and instability.
The tenth collection of poems from Alan Shapiro, author of SONG AND DANCE and OLD WAR
Alan Shapiro was the second Phoenix Poet (after David Ferry) in Fall 1983, so it is with great anticipation that we welcome him back to the fold after twelve years with his newest book Reel to Reel, just in time for the 30th anniversary of the series.The volume bears all the hallmarks of the beautifully composed poetry that weve come to expect from Shapiro: the poems move from the intimacies of domestic love and attachment, and proceed outward to include contemporary social and political realities, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq via Homers Iliad. But Shapiro has also evolved as a writer, taking a quantum leap of faith, as it were, to explore new modes of expression and alternate ways to propel his verse syntactically. Like his earlier books of poetry (most of them published by this Press), Shapiros abiding subjects remain: Reel to Reel is very much a book about fundamental human truths, but it also yearns for truth in a larger universe we barely comprehend, from the natural worlds infinitely small realities to the infinitely large expanse of the cosmos. This is, far and away, his most ambitious book.
Reel to Reel, Alan Shapiros twelfth collection of poetry, moves outward from the intimate spaces of family and romantic life to embrace not only the human realm of politics and culture but also the natural world, and even the outer spaces of the cosmos itself. In language richly nuanced yet accessible, these poems inhabit and explore fundamental questions of existence, such as time, mortality, consciousness, and matter. How did we get here? Why is there something rather than nothing? How do we live fully and lovingly as conscious creatures in an unconscious universe with no ultimate purpose or destination beyond returning to the abyss that spawned us? Shapiro brings his humor, imaginative intensity, characteristic syntactical energy, and generous heart to bear on these ultimate mysteries. In ways few poets have done, he writes from a premodern, primal sense of wonder about our postmodern world.
About the Author
Alan Shapiro is the William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the author of nine acclaimed books of poetry. He is a former recipient of the Kingsley Tufts Award and the Los Angeles Book Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He was recently elected as a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Table of Contents
I. Night of the Republic
Gas Station Restroom 3
Car Dealership at 3 A.M. 5
Park Bench 10
Downtown Strip Club 12
Hotel Lobby 14
Race Track 15
Dry Cleaner 17
Shoe Store 18
Stone Church 20
Indoor Municipal Pool 26
Hospital Examination Room 27
Senior Center 28
Funeral Home 31
II. Galaxy Formation
Edenic Simile 37
Close to You 39
Galaxy Formation 41
III. Night of the Republic
Post Office 50
Convention Hall 51
Government Center 52
The Public 55
IV. At the Corner of
Coolidge and Clarence
The Family 75
Light Switch 76
Coffee Cup 78
Cigarette Smoke 79
Piano Bench 80
Family Pictures 83
Bedroom Door 86
White Gloves 89
The Doorbell 92