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An urgent and timely collection by one of America’s most inventive and accessible poets
In Night of the Republic, Alan Shapiro takes us on an unsettling night tour of America’s 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 Shapiro’s 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 Shapiro’s…[more]
In his sixth book of poems, Alan Shapiro once again shows that he is a master at articulating the secrets of the heart. The Dead Alive and Busy deals with issues of personal identity as revealed through examining the intimate bonds of family life. The poems explore these familial relations in terms of the religious, social, and literary contexts that inform them, delving into such universal themes as human frailty, illness and death, bereavement, and thwarted desires. By turns lyrical and narrative, slangy and elevated, analytical and visionary, this collection showcases one of America’s most important poets in his top form.
Respected poet, teacher, and critic Alan Shapiro continues his much-acclaimed explorations of childhood, family, and marriage in Mixed Company. Revealing a world troubled by difference while struggling toward commonality, and with equal attention to historical detail and the poetics of everyday life, from the mythic past to the abrasive intimacies of the present, Shapiro charts the many ways our social and sexual identities are formed, threatened, altered, and, for good or ill, preserved. Deeply felt and ambitious, Mixed Company is an extraordinary book by one of the leading poets writing in America today.
“What draws us into Alan Shapiro’s Mixed Company is not a conspicuous felicity or any sort of bravura, but the quiet, undaunted way he goes after the truth of human feeling and motive.…The poems grope and conjecture, looking for understanding…but whatever may remain unsolved and insoluble, the poems are full of astonishing insights, a rare articulateness, and what another age called ‘knowledge of the human heart.’ ” —Richard Wilbur
The Last Happy Occasion is the coming-of-age story of an American Jew and aspiring writer in the sixties and seventies. In this memoir in six movements, Alan Shapiro recalls how poetry helped him make sense of his own and other people’s lives. Events unfold, including his sister’s death, that make him reconsider the transformative power of art and accept the limitations of poetry in confronting the untransformable pain of mortal loss.
A refreshingly honest, lovingly crafted work, The Last Happy Occasion is a treasure map for anyone interested in exploring the intersections of life and art.