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PoetryNovember 30, 2020

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop: Notes on Pattern and Variation

Looking at examples from Ross Gay, William Carlos Williams, C.K. Williams, Lucille Clifton, Thom Gunn, James Baldwin, and more, Alan Shapiro tracks the patterns and changes within poems and across time that make it possible for poems to “meet the needs of ever-changing individuals in an ever-changing language, and an ever-changing world.”

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PoetrySeptember 9, 2019


“What no one ever spoke of / was saying itself through the little that was said.” Race, money, power, resentment, and unspoken understandings, frequently misunderstood but still inherited, swirl like smoke through memory in a new poem from Alan Shapiro.

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PoetryAugust 3, 2015

Gratitude for Nothing

Responding to a friend’s poem and playing on the phrase “Thanks for Nothing,” Alan Shapiro offers an intricate song of praise to nothingness–“blind giver and dumb taker, / my stone deaf end / and origin, whom / I pretend / hears me pretend / to thank for being”–that is also an exquisite poem of gratitude for all the hunger that led to “this last, this / best love.”

PoetryJanuary 17, 2012

Homeric Turns

A masterful poem of suffering, storytelling and gods from Alan Shapiro, in whose hands “the rank and file/Massed for a sleep walk into corpse fires” can become, for a moment, “A figure now for storm clouds out at sea.”

PoetryMarch 21, 2009

Tantalus in Love

Alan Shapiro weaves Greek myth into a dramatic rendering of a marriage’s last moments and its tendency to reanimate itself every time it seems beyond hope.

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