The Sights Along the Harbor: New and Collected Poems

Harvey Shapiro, Author Wesleyan University Press $29.95 (292p) ISBN 978-0-8195-6795-6
Bigger and more compelling than the 1997 Selected that it replaces, this volume offers a virtual tour Shapiro's New York City, his American Jewish identity and his experience in WWII. Beginning as a strict 1950s formalist, Shapiro discovered his metier in the early 1970s, with a free verse indebted to William Carlos Williams and George Oppen and a dedication to humility and descriptive clarity. In his mature poems, Shapiro pays comic and ecstatic attention to sex (""Eros, destroyer / of meaning and creator of song""); records his visits to Japan and to Jerusalem; translates poets from the Yiddish; and rebukes himself for the way he has lived his life: ""Equipped with an imagination for disaster, / you never seem to anticipate the real disasters."" Though he may not have invented a fully original style, Shapiro, who did a stint as editor of the New York Times Book Review has amassed a substantial body of work that presents a well-observed 20th century life, one that ""keeps looking for language.""
Reviewed on: 01/30/2006
Release date: 02/01/2006
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