Poetry. "Thoughtfully, painfully, bitterly, lovingly, the poems in Lauren Shapiro's ARENA expose how the limits of the unreal become real when one is forced to interrogate a family member's attempted suicide. But what is interrogated and assimilated and articulated is not just death, mourning, loss, and absence. Rather, in Shapiro's ARENA, there is a crowd witnessing and absorbing an artwork where atrocity, bureaucracy, history, and spectacle merge to form a performance that we are unable to look away from. Shapiro refuses to soften the most powerful blows that prevent us from filtering out the unspeakable as we struggle to live a quotidian life when all that we know explodes. This is a poignant and stunning achievement."—Daniel Borzutzky
"Keen-witted, caustic, and resolutely dry-eyed, these poems register a collective alarm in which private grief and global dread converge 'at the pace of adrenaline.'"—Suzanne Buffam
"Is it possible to observe the suffering of others without turning their suffering into spectacle? In ARENA, Lauren Shapiro suggests that we can do so whenever we bring ourselves whole to each other, but none of us, Shapiro understands, is whole. And so, instead, we meet as strangers in an arena: 'When the crowd quiets it's to see / the decapitation or just to breathe in, not me.' With great art, and great skill, Shapiro sees through the distracting strangeness of the present moment to the truths about ourselves that the present moment reveals."—Shane McCrae
"Lauren Shapiro's poems frack open the anxiety deep in our bedrock. ARENA touches that place where we thought we were safe in our untouchedness. I really love and trust the person in these poems. And the poems themselves are so fluid, fast, dark, witty, and rueful."—Darcie Dennigan
"ARENA insists we share one another's pain not once, not twice, but over and over again, possibly never-endingly, it insists on memory's graceful panic of 'endless anticipation' while understanding how 'destiny was the wound' is necessary. In blocks of deadpan prose and in pain-torn ragged lines, Shapiro never flinches from suffering; no one should read this book without being prepared to be dragged up and down and through the rage and suffering suicide delivers; 'there are so many ways / to be angry' simmers underneath every word."—Dara Wier
Lauren Shapiro is the author of Easy Math (Sarabande, 2013), which was the winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize and the Debut-litzer Prize for Poetry, as well as a chapbook of poems, Yo-Yo Logic (DIAGRAM/New Michigan Press, 2011). She is an associate professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University.
Author City: PITTSBURGH, PA USA