Shapiro David 1947 David Shapiros

imaginatively agile and erudite poems make him one of the most eloquent poets of the new york school's second generation. Shapiro wrote the first dissertation on John ashbery's work and edited, with Ron padgett,

An Anthology of New York School Poets (1970). His work develops the New York school's play between a poem's depth and surface and, like the work of Ashbery and Barbara guest, uses painting as a celebrated resource for rendering supple images and the shapes of perception. Shapiro's work as an art critic imaginatively dovetails with his poetry. Words and ideas achieve a surreal and fluid flexibility within the frame of his poems, and definitions slide easily into the unexpected. As Joanna Fuhrman explains, "To read a David Shapiro poem is to enter a space in which 'emotion' is as abstract as theory and an 'idea' is as visceral and tender as the best pop song" (1).

Shapiro was born in Newark, New Jersey; as a child he was immersed in the arts. He recalls, "One of the great influences of my life was my father constantly memorizing Virgil, Shakespeare, Milton, and he had me do the same, as soon as I could speak" (qtd. 1). Before he became a published poet, Shapiro was an accomplished violinist. Thomas Fink writes that his poems "abound" in "subtle, complex, often unpredictable tonal shifts" (1993, 13). At 18 he published his first book, January: A Book of Poems (1965). His collection A Man Holding an Acoustic Panel was nominated for a National Book Award in 1971. Among a number of other honors, Shapiro has also received the American Academy of Arts and Letters Morton Dauwen Zabel Award (1977).

As the title of his collection After a Lost Original (1994) suggests, Shapiros poems investigate the possibilities for representation when a stable source of reality cannot be found. His work alludes to many artists "who have mischievously concocted ironies about the perils of referentiality" (Fink 1988, 29), though his voice retains sincerity even as his lines take surprising or disjunctive turns. Throughout his work Shapiro experiments with a wide range of styles and devices that are charged with his knowledge of aesthetics and literature.

one of many poems that reflects upon literature's imaginative terrain, "To an Idea" (1983) explores a poet's mind in the act of composition. He begins by articulating, then revising a desire to write out of the experience of possibility that an abstract nothingness represents: "I wanted to start Ex Nihilo / I mean a review of sorts." The poem transforms itself into an ode


to poetry, which has "carried [him] like mail / From one house to another." Shapiro's work attests to art's potential for taking readers and writers into meaningful uncertainties.

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