Nebraska Center for Writers

Chimney Rock What the Critics Say
About Karl Shapiro




Striking for its concrete but detached insights, it is witty and exact in the way it catches the poet's subtle and guarded impressions, and it is a poetry full of clever and unexpected verbal conceits. It is a very professional poetry — supple [and] adaptable. — Alfred Kazin, Contemporaries on early work
What he wants is a turning from received and thus discredited English and European techniques of focus in favor of honest encounters with the stuff of local experience. — Paul Fussell, Partisan Review early
A work of greater poetic integrity than any of Shapiro's earlier volumes. — Hyatt H Waggonner on The Bourgeois Poet
From the very beginning, Shapiro identified himself as an iconoclast, and his outsider's role extended beyond his attacks on social injustice. At a time before it was fashionable to do so, he proudly proclaimed his Jewishness and set himself against the main trends of Modernism. ... For all his stridency, Shapiro could be a wonderfully tender poet. — David Wojahn
As a third generation American I grew up with the obsessive idea of personal liberty which engrosses all Americans except the oldest and richest families. — from the introduction to The Poems of a Jew
I've always had this feeling — I've heard other Jews say — that when you can't find any other explanation for the Jews, you say, "Well, they are poets." ... The poet is in exile whether he is or he is not. Because of what everybody knows about society's idea of the artist as a peripheral character and a potential bum. Or a troublemaker. ... I always thought of myself as being both in and out of society at the same time. Like the way most artists probably feel in order to survive — you have to at least pretend that you are "seriously" in the world. Or actually perform in it while you know that in your own soul you are not in it at all. — Karl Shapiro, Paris Review interview
Poets owe Karl Shapiro, first for creating a sound and music in language that no other poet has surpassed. — Leo Connellan, Small Press Review,
future work stands an excellent chance of merging the superior qualities of two opposite modes: the expressiveness of candid personal confession and the durability of significant form. — Laurence Lieberman, New York Times


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