Pennsylvania

Natalie Shapero

Other children, when I was a child,would at times invoke the inner light—I misunderstood.I thought it meant God scorcheswithin us, and God, like a torch,can go out. That was so long ago.I’ve since ceased my believing in death—there’s no such thing.There’s only a kind of brownout,the whole of the globe turningoff for a moment, then shudderingback, the same as it was,except one person short.And then before long, an utter newperson is born. Somebody worse.

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Natalie Shapero is the author of the poetry collections Popular Longing, Hard Child, and No Object. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. She teaches at Tufts University.

The poems of Natalie Shapero’s third collection, Popular Longing, highlight the ever-increasing absurdity of our contemporary life. With her sharp, sardonic wit, Shapero deftly captures human meekness in all its forms: our senseless wars, our inflated egos, our constant deference to presumed higher powers—be they romantic partners, employers, institutions, or gods. “Why even / look up, when all we’ll see is people / looking down?” In a world where everyone has to answer to someone, it seems no one is equipped to disrupt the status quo, and how the most urgent topics of conversation can only be approached through refraction. By scrutinizing the mundane and all that is taken for granted, these poems arrive at much wider vistas, commenting on human sadness, memory, and mortality. Punchy, fearlessly ironic, and wickedly funny, Popular Longing articulates what it means to share a planet, for better or more often for worse, with other people.

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