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Shapiro, Karl

Karl Shapiro, 1913–2000, American poet and critic, b. Baltimore, studied Univ. of Virginia, Johns Hopkins. His interests in the aesthetics and artifice of modern poetry and the role of the poet as cultural spokesperson are expressed in his poems and his criticism. Shapiro's early volumes of verse—Person, Place, and Thing (1942), Place of Love (1943), and V-Letter and Other Poems (1944; Pulitzer Prize)—were written while he was a soldier in World War II and contain much of his best-known work. Later volumes include Trial of a Poet (1947), Poems of a Jew (1958), Adult Bookstore (1976), Collected Poems, 1940–1977 (1978), and Poet: Volume One: The Younger Son (1988). His critical essays were published in such volumes as Essay on Rime (in verse, 1945), In Defense of Ignorance (1960), The Bourgeois Poet (1964), To Abolish Children and Other Essays (1968), and The Poetry Wreck (1975). His only novel, Edsel, appeared in 1971. Shapiro also edited Poetry magazine (1948–50) and until 1985 taught at various colleges.

See his autobiography, Reports of My Death (1990).

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