I'LL SEE YOU THURSDAY
“There is an urgency of the soul here, that it will be heard. That urgency and careful sound-work bind together all sorts of emotion: her mourning for the political life of the old city, love of her husband, suffering of the exiled soul, sexual delight, and love of poetry. Several poems, “Family Jokes” and “A Miniature at the Metropolitan,” are small masterpieces.”
“With a rueful hold on the real and the ordinary, with honesty, anger, and longing, Myra Shapiro tells here of the heart’s education: “so I felt dirtied, sometimes/desperate, but tough.” And her profoundest education is death--one of her poems is called “Suddenly. Death a Flower”– death and the life within it. In this poem and in the others like it, the book flowers.”
“Myra Shapiro’s I’ll See You Thursday is a joy to read. The stories inside these poems—and these poems inside stories—are bound irrevocably together by grace, wit, by a lyricism that holds the world up close to the reader. Shapiro possesses a human vision that is as excited to reveal to us the precious flaw as the perfectly wrought, the impeccably sealed. Thus, to be touched by these poems is to be touched by a life that is as complicated as yours or mine, as unresolved, as scarred by the fire, as water-marked, as ready.”
“I knew it, but I discover again Myra Shapiro’s authentic voice in the rush and naked vigor of I’ll See You Thursday—tragic, funny, delicate and tough, sinewy as ironwood. I read the entire collection without pausing except to gasp, sigh, laugh or wipe my eyes. I give thanks for such poetry. It helps me to live.”
Four Sublets is a passionate love story: about poetry, the poetic life, and becoming a writer in New York City. It is the tale of a spirited woman in her middle years driven to create the life of a poet in Manhattan that she longed for as a wife and mother in Chattanooga… The beauty of Shapiro’s language and the depth of her wisdom inspire each one of us to find a room of our own. Give this courageous memoir to any woman you know who longs to make a creative life.
Myra Shapiro’s memoir, Four Sublets: Becoming a Poet in New York, reminds us that it was but a few decades ago that a woman was not expected to have a singular happiness. Shapiro’s book bravely looks at a life in rebellion against her complex but expected role: being a wife, keeping a home, and raising a family. The four sublets represent a life alone in creative pursuit and Shapiro’s journey to find her own voice is touching in its struggle….The surprise of poems in the text is a delight.
Mary Jane Nealon
12 FLOORS ABOVE THE EARTH
Like Grace Paley or Stanley Kunitz, Myra Shapiro possesses a cultivated, tough-minded voice, and an unflinching human commitment to know more. Whether she is asking hard questions about the flickering strangeness of sexuality, solitude, or religion, her special intelligence finds the difficult hinges and pressure points of life. And, because she does not hide from what she finds, her probing is both beautiful and moving. "In longing you close your eyes," she says, and "in wonder you open them." 12 Floors Above the Earth is a wonderfully alert and honest collection of poems. It is also darkly witty. "It turns out I am God," she says. "No wonder I am terrified."
Splendid, irreplaceable--and spicy. Shapiro's poems are rich in history: family history, with its festivals and shadows, and also that larger history that includes wars and crusades and pogroms. I love the inclusiveness of these poems--love, sex, death, and poetry, the full sweep. And the full sweep of geography as the poems move from Manhattan to Bruges and Berlin, from the Middle East to Africa. There is also wisdom in these poems and zest, along with all the complications of a full life repeatedly examined and explored by a narrator whose voice is conversational and accessible. These are poems that a discerning reader will return to again and again.
WHEN THE WORLD WALKS TOWARD YOU
I bow down to the astonishing, utterly powerful poems of Myra Shapiro. Having always loved her voice, and now encountering it further along the path, is a gift beyond measure. Life and beauty, death and its mysterious music - like a perpetual humming beneath all our exacting movements - the diminishment and death of her very beloved partner - the exquisite heartbreaking dailiness of days - and dreams for the women of our own histories as well as the far-off, equally deserving women of Gaza - why not? "O world askew!" Shapiro sings. She's a master.
Naomi Shihab Nye, Young People's Poet Laureate, Poetry Foundation
Myra Shapiro's fourth book begins with the death of dancer Martha Graham. But if you think this is a book about death you are missing the point not only about this first poem, but about Myra's attitude toward death. The subject of this book is life and how death itself is about how we live it. From Myra's birth, when she replaced her sister who died as a child, through and after her husband's death, Myra Shapiro calls on and brings to mind the blessings that make life what it is. She savors life down to the last teaspoon.
Fran Quinn, Poet, Editor, and Teacher