From the Publisher
"[Harvey Shapiro is] a veritable dynamo and a venerable American original whose small poems at their tonic best are as large as life." New York Times Book Review
"Few modern poets can match the range of experience that Shapiro records with a classical sanity and clarity. Giving a reader so much in return for such little effort risks underestimation. I'm confident that posterity won't make this mistake..."The Forward
"Shapiro has established himself as a hidden treasure in a city of otherness.... Whether at JFK, Ben-Gurion airport or at his desk in East Hampton, where statues of a Buddha and a goddess of creativity are perched, Shapiro is poised to soar with pen and powers of observation in hand."The Jerusalem Report
“The book is quite simply a stunning achievement. I know that I will turn to it again and again for its wit, its depth, its intellectual adventurousness, and the exultant play of its language.”
… you can't help admiring the yeasty vitality he exudes; what he lacks in prosodic dexterity and verbal flair he compensates for in prolific gusto and gumption. Gnomic and beatific, salty and bawdy, puckish and waggish, kvetching and kibitzing — when it comes to running the gamut of humors and emotions, Shapiro covers the waterfront and then some. He's a veritable dynamo and a venerable American original whose small poems at their tonic best are as large as life.
The New York Times
Shapiro's first poems were collected in The Eye (1953). Since then he's produced a steady stream of more than competent, sometimes arresting and memorable poetry. Reading this collection is almost like viewing a map of American poetry and the changes it's undergone in the last half century. The early poems are academic, focusing on literature and mythology: "Sappho's moist locust and the scudding moon/ Speak to each other in a dilation upon Acheron." Then there is the loosening, the attempt to break away from his roots, a phenomenon he describes in "Autobiography" (published in his 1984 volume): "The tension/ of the New Critics still feeding/ my fifties life." Gradually pretense slips away; the poet makes a conscious effort to speak plainly and directly, even if it means some poems become trivial. Themes begun in the early poems-e.g., the New York Jew, the Israeli tourist, the World War II pilot-draw new connections as the poet ages. Shapiro's later poems become increasingly obsessed with the feminine, whether human or muse. This retrospective takes on far more weight than any single volume from which these poems are culled. Recommended for all poetry collections.-Rochelle Ratner, formerly with Soho Weekly News, New York Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.