Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Alan Shapiro was educated at Brandeis University. As the author of numerous collections of poetry, Shapiro has explored family, loss, domesticity, and the daily aspects of people’s lives in free verse and traditional poetic forms.
Poet-critic J.D. McClatchy observed in a review of Shapiro’s Dead, Alive and Busy (2000), “Mr. Shapiro is a shrewd and sympathetic moralist. He never trivializes his subjects with high-minded flourishes or stylistic gimmicks.” Shapiro’s later collections address the loss of his two siblings to cancer, the aging of his parents, and the strains on a marriage. In describing the domestic details and loss portrayed in Shapiro’s Tantalus in Love (2005), poet Joshua Clover commented, “Such tightly framed tales of domesticity offer a sense of control parallel to Shapiro’s formal facility, reducing and clarifying the poem’s field of action in defense against an abysmal multiplicity of things.”
In his memoirs The Last Happy Occasion (1997), nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award, and Vigil (1997), Shapiro has written about the death of his sister and the role that poetry has played in his life. Shapiro is also the author of a collection of essays on poetry, In Praise of the Impure: Poetry and the Ethical Imagination: Essays, 1980–1991 (1993).
Alan Shapiro has won the Kingsley Tufts Award, the Los Angeles Book Prize, and a Lila Wallace–Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award. During Bill Clinton’s presidency, Shapiro was invited to read his work at the White House. He read “On Men Weeping,” a poem about Michael Jordan winning a basketball championship. Shapiro has taught at Stanford University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
After the Digging. Chicago: Elpenor Books, 1981.
The Courtesy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.
Happy Hour. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
Covenant. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.
Mixed Company. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.
The Dead Alive and Busy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
Song and Dance. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002.
Tantalus in Love: Poems. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005.
Old War: Poems. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008.
Night of the Republic. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2012.
ESSAYS AND MEMOIRS
In Praise of the Impure: Poetry and the Ethical Imagination: Essays, 1980–1991. TriQuarterly Books, 1993.
The Last Happy Occasion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.
Vigil. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.
Poems By ALAN SHAPIRO
- More poems by Alan Shapiro (25 poems)
Audio & PodcastsPoem of the Day Poem of the Day The Poetry Magazine Podcast
Requiem, Vindication, and a Gas Station Restroom
Poems from the September issue and a phone call from Clive James.