After a Lost Original: A Book of Poems

David Shapiro, Author
David Shapiro, Author Overlook Press $19.95 (106p) ISBN 978-0-87951-527-0
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
Relying heavily upon the imagery offered in dreams, Shapiro ( Lateness ) applies a skill similar to what he's learned from his work as a translator, shuffling and scrambling words until they make sense. At his best, he manipulates flat, simplistic and familiar language into subtle new meanings, as in his variation of the Lord's Prayer: ``Give up this day, give us one day, give it / Like water, and also give us water.'' Some of his best pieces probe religion's built-in wordplay. He not only personifies inanimate objects, but entrusts them with a poet's emotional weight: waves are ``one more repetitious narrative'' and the house seems desperate for ``the missing word.'' At times successful, this self-reflective stance in weaker poems becomes egotistical and presumptuous. He trades lines and images with his young son, refers in other works to his parents or grandparents. Despite a few little gems--his grandfather singing in synagogue or a dream about his mother in the hospital--Shapiro seems to be cowering behind image and metaphor in even his most personal pieces, and results are often muddled. (Mar.)
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