David Shapiro (poet)

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David Shapiro
Born (1947-01-02) January 2, 1947 (age 72)
Occupation Poet
Nationality American

David Shapiro (born January 2, 1947) is an American poet, literary critic, and art historian. He has written some twenty volumes of poetry, literary, and art criticism. He was first published at the age of thirteen, and his first book was published when he was just eighteen.

Education and teaching

File:HejdukPrague1991 1.jpg
Václav Havel, Shirley Temple Black, David Shapiro and John Hejduk,
Prague, 3 September 1991

Born in Newark, New Jersey,[1] Shapiro grew up in Newark and attended Weequahic High School before matriculating at Columbia University at the age of 16 (with the assistance of Kenneth Koch), from which he holds a B.A. (1968) and a Ph.D. (1973) in English. Between 1968-1970, he studied at the University of Cambridge on a Kellett Fellowship, from which he holds an M.A. with honors.[2] Having previously taught at Columbia (in the Department of English and Comparative Literature), Princeton University, and Brooklyn College, Shapiro teaches poetry and literature at Cooper Union and is currently the William Paterson professor of art history at William Paterson University.

He achieved brief notoriety during the 1968 student uprising at Columbia, when he was photographed sitting behind the desk of President Grayson L. Kirk wearing dark glasses and smoking a cigar; Shapiro later described the cigar as "horrible".[3][4]


Shapiro's writing includes a monograph on John Ashbery, a book on Jim Dine’s paintings, a book on Piet Mondrian’s flower studies, and a book on Jasper Johns’ drawings. He has translated Rafael Alberti’s poems on Pablo Picasso, and the writings of the Sonia and Robert Delaunay.

His sonnets on the death of Socrates are the basis for Unwritten, a song cycle by Mohammed Fairouz.[5]

List of works

  • January: A Book of Poems–Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1965
  • Poems From Deal–E P Dutton, 1969
  • An Anthology of New York Poets (co-editor)–Random House, 1970
  • A Man Holding an Acoustic Panel–E P Dutton, 1971 (National Book Award Nominee)
  • The Page Turner–Liveright, 1973
  • Lateness: A Book of Poems–Overlook/Viking, 1977
  • Introduction to John Ashbery’s Poetry–Columbia University Press, 1979
  • The Writings of Sonia and Robert Delaunay (co-translator)–Viking, 1979
  • Jim Dine–Abrams, 1981; Alecta Press (German edition and translation)
  • Lateness (Watercolors by Lucio Pozzi)–Generations Press, Paris, 1981
  • To An Idea–Overlook/Viking, 1984
  • Jasper Johns–Abrams, 1984
  • House (Blown Apart): A Book of Poems–Overlook/Viking, 1988
  • Mondrian: Flowers–Abrams, 1991
  • The Selected Poems of Jacques Dupin (co-translator)–Wake Forest, 1992
  • The Eight Names of Picasso (co-translator)–Gas Station Editions, 1992
  • After A Lost Original (etching by Terry Winters)–Solo Press, 1992
  • The Green Lake is Awake: The Selected Poems of Joseph Ceravolo (co-editor)–CoffeeHouse Press, 1994
  • After A Lost Original–Overlook Press, 1994
  • Inventory: New & Selected Poems (editor) by Frank Lima-Hard Press, 1997
  • Body of Prayer (Shapiro, Govrin, Derrida)–Cooper Union Press, 1998
  • A Burning Interior–Overlook Press, 2002
  • Rabbit Duck (Collaborative with Richard Hell) – Repair, 2005
  • New and Selected Poems (1965–2006)–Overlook Press, 2007


Shapiro has won National Endowment for the Humanities and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, been nominated for a National Book Award, and been the recipient of numerous grants for his work.

List of fellowships, honors, awards and grants

  • Gotham Book Mart Avant-Garde Poetry Award–1962
  • Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Robert Frost Fellow–1965
  • Ingram Merrill Foundation Grant–1967
  • Book of the Month Club Writing Award–1968
  • Clare College, Cambridge University–Kellett Fellowship, Awarded by Columbia College–1968–1970
  • Woodrow Wilson Fellowship–1970
  • Clare College, Cambridge University–First Honors, Book Prize, Scholar–1970
  • Columbia University, NDEA Grant–1970–1971
  • National Book Award, Nominated–1971
  • Creative Artists Public Service Grant–1973
  • Council for the Humanities, Grants–1973, 1976, 1978
  • Columbia University, Chamberlain Fellowship–1976
  • American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, Zabel Prize–1977
  • National Endowment for the Humanities, Fellowship–1979–1980
  • National Endowment for the Arts, Creative Writing–1980
  • Princeton University, Faculty Fellow–1985–1986
  • National Endowment for the Humanities, Fellow, USCS at Santa Cruz–1987
  • Asia Society Colophon Award–1998
  • Graham Foundation Grant–1990
  • The America Awards for Literature, Belles Lettres–The Green Lake is Awake: Selected Poems of Joseph Ceravolo (Co-Editor)–1994
  • Fund for Poetry–1995
  • Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award, 1996

Personal life

Shapiro lives in Riverdale, The Bronx, New York City, with his wife and son.[2]


  1. Klin, Richard. "David's Harp", January Magazine, July 2007. Accessed September 22, 2008. "Newark-raised, Shapiro has not shied away from his Garden State roots, (Poems from Deal, its title taken from a Jersey-shore town, came out in 1969) taking his place, along with Ginsberg and Williams, as bards of this much maligned state."
  2. 2.0 2.1 Parhizkar, Maryam. "David Shapiro ’68: Four Decades of Poems", Columbia College Today, May/June 2007. Accessed May 4, 2008.
  3. Staff. "Columbia Offers Laurels to a Band of Poets", The New York Times, September 23, 1990. Accessed September 22, 2008. "In the widely circulated photo, a young Mr. Shapiro - not yet a professor - is in the student-occupied office of the university President, Grayson Kirk. Wearing a pair of sunglasses, he is sitting comfortably on President Kirk's chair with his feet up, puffing away on one of the president's cigars. That cigar was horrible, Professor Shapiro told the dinner guests."
  4. Morrow, Lance. "Lance Morrow: Why the flag is not a burning issue", CNN, March 29, 2000. Accessed September 22, 2000. "For one thing, flag burning (even though it occurs rarely) originated as one of the vivid, button-pushing ur-outrages committed during the great '60s deconstruction of American authority (which some boomers consider to be the beginning of the world) and engraved on the national memory by photographs of the time – merging with black-and-white shots of an Abbie Hoffman type giving the finger to "Amerika," or of the student radical Mark Rudd smirking and smoking a cigar with his feet up on the desk of the president of Columbia University."
  5. Fischer, Shell (March 1, 2011), Poets, Composers Find Sanctuary, Poets & Writers, retrieved 2011-04-19


Further reading

  • Thomas Fink, The Poetry of David Shapiro, Farleigh Dickinson University Press, Madison & Teaneck, NJ, 1993; ISBN 0-8386-3495-8
  • Thomas Fink & Joseph Lease, Burning Interiors: David Shapiro’s Poetry and Poetics, Farleigh Dickinson University Press, Madison & Teaneck, NJ, 2007; ISBN 978-0-8386-4155-2. Includes essays by Paul Hoover, Joanna Fuhrman, Stephen Paul Miller, Denise Duhamel, Noah Eli Gordon, Ron Silliman, Tim Peterson, Timothy Liu, more.
  • New York Quarterly, Issue 65, has an extensive interview with David Shapiro.

External links

Jacket magazine features