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Since his precocious first book, published when he was eighteen, award-winning David Shapiro's four previous volumes of poetry have been hailed by such critics and poets as Harold Bloom, Kenneth Rexroth, and John Ashbery. A Burning Interior offers a restless poetry dense with stories but without mere confession or whimsical surface. It is a collection both universal and, at the same time, powerfully Jewish-with a radical dissent from secular dogmas.
Shapiro's assured voice speaks an elegy for a generation decimated by AIDS and one to his friend and collaborator, the late architect John Hejduk, with whom Shapiro worked on the Palach monument dedicated by President Havel in Prague. Translations of Baudelaire and Rilke rub against amusing "mistranslations" from the Chinese and Russian, and homage to other poets that constitute Shapiro's sense of a "tradition of darkness." Included, too, are poems written with his son, and what can be called a found object poem: a hilarious family diary. The book concludes powerfully with a series of prayers or laments for the artists Rudy Burckhardt and Joe Ceravolo, a recognition of the poet's own mortality.
David Shapiro has published poetry, translations, and art and literary criticism in The New Yorker, The Partisan Review, and The Paris Review. He has received fellowships from both the National Endowments of the Arts and from the National Endowments of the Humanities, and was nominated for the National Book Award in 1971. He has taught at Columbia University, Princeton, Bard, and Brooklyn College, and is currently a Professor in Art History at William Paterson University, in New Jersey.