Arts and Sciences
T.S. Eliot had it at least half right when he wrote, in the opening to The Waste Land, that April is the cruelest month, at least judging by the cold, miserable weather we’ve been having this so-called spring. It also is, coincidentally, National Poetry Month, proclaimed by the Academy of American Poets.In that spirit, we reached out to Natalie Shapero, professor of the practice of poetry in the English department, to talk about what poetry means to her and what it might mean to the rest of us.
Shapero didn’t spend her early years pining over poetry, aiming for a garret in which to write. She studied creative writing, but also went law school and practiced law. Her poetry is sharp, sometimes acerbic, often funny, with tinges of anger and despair. K.R. Miller in the Michigan Quarterly Review describes her latest book of poetry as “punching with . . . finesse, mobilizing the detritus of society and memory to wrangle with God, death, and motherhood.”
It’s also supremely readable. Take this, from her poem “Hot Streak”: “Actually it’s ridiculous to opine on what kind / of dog I would be, were I ever a dog, as I don’t / contain within me half enough life to power a dog.” And then there’s this, from “God Only”: “I remember / my old love holding me / over the side / of some canyon. / DROP ME, I ordered, and / he goddamn tried.”
Both come from her latest book of poetry, Hard Child (Copper Canyon Press), which was recently shortlisted for the prestigious 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize—one of four on the list, out of more than 500 books considered. (The winner will be announced June 7.)
We recently caught up with Shapero recently to talk poetry.
Tufts Now: What do you hope readers get out of your poetry?
Natalie Shapero: A lot of my …