cover image Popular Longing

Popular Longing

Natalie Shapero. Copper Canyon, $17 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-55659-588-2

The poems in the sharp, eloquent third collection from Shapero (Hard Child) juxtapose the world as it is and as it could be. Shapero has established herself as one of the foremost poets of wit, candor, and verve, capturing the pain of being alive, where “even worse is the other/ way around.” In one poem, she writes, “I was thinking of the times/ I have attempted to exit my body,” before contextualizing, “I was thinking/ of how I’d had nowhere to go.” These poems sit in the “absence of Heaven,” a state of nowhere in which nearly every decision is a wrong decision. They capture this mood with biting humor: “What are our choices,” she asks, “might I suggest/ LESS IS MORE against MORE IS MORE?” These poems are unsparing in their critiques of the self, the greed of capitalism, and violence; yet there is tenderness and human solidarity, a wish for something better, even if it feels like the odds are stacked against humanity, “Unseen as we are in this life.” Shapero is a poet willing to go deep into the collective heart of humanity to find the truth, however it humors or hurts. No book captures the loneliness of witness like this one. (Feb.)