Houghton Mifflin Harcourt was nice enough to lend me a review copy of Night of the Republic by Alan Shapiro for my blog.
I actually chose this book because Alan Shapiro teaches right down the road at that hellacious puke blue school. Turns out, majority of the places he’s actually writing about are in Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill (if you’re not aware of the 919 or the RTP, than you’re not on the right maps. It’s the cool spot. Can’t you tell?)
I’ve always thought Alan Shapiro was a man of witty, conversation poems that usually said so much, in so few words. He’s like the silent, balding father who sits on the couch and refuses to ever have any sort of birds-and-the-bees “talk” with his children.
Lucky me, both of my parents are avid “talkers.” My mother is the self-proclaimed Queen of the Lecture. Both, my brother and I, had plenty of “talks” on various birth control options, how our bodies worked, why Barbie’s didn’t have vagina’s (that was more me than my brother, just FYI). I think my favorite question I ever asked my mother was, are these lyrics dirty, and should I not be listening to them?… (“These are things your mama shouldn’t know, These are things I really wanna show” Backstreet Boys circa 2002). So, that’s a little about me, now back to Alan.
I can’t say that this was my favorite collection ever, but what I like about it is it’s commonality. Night of the Republic is for the person who always says they don’t read poetry because they don’t understand it. Shapiro’s collection is almost completely understandable, even when he goes off into the vast blackness of other galaxies, or he’s listening to phone conversations of people in bars, or he’s stuck in a hallway being a harp for the voices who have lived there in the past. (You know at some point, if your house is not new that you’ve stood in the bathroom, or a closet and thought about the people who hit there journals in the corners there, before you). With Shapiro though, you’re there with him the whole time. Believe me, studying creative writing at NCSU has introduced me to a world of complex poetry that goes way beyond my short means. Or, it’s just plain unintelligible and everyone around you tells you that it’s “smart” or “genius.” And then, you feel like a complete and utter moron.
Poetry though, is meant to be anything. It’s a form of writing that really can take on any characters; aliens, fairy tale princesses, or just plain silly, curly-haired girls with minds on outer-space and ex-boyfriends, like me. Or, you can go off on a tangent about goats, milking, and no one even really questions your audacity.
A few of my favorite poems in the collection are:
I am a writer, educator and genuine creative living on the coast of NC. Our house is built on sunshine with my husband BJ, dog named Tucker, and our two very sassy cats: Fromage and Jasper.