The Wild Card by Karl Shapiro
Selected Poems, Early and Late

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Karl Shapiro, who won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1945, is an American poetic treasure and an acknowledged master of lyrical poetry whose subjects have ranged from commonplace objects and occurrences to biting political commentary to open celebrations of the contradictions in humanity's moral nature. As his subjects have evolved, so has his style, developing and modulating into various forms, but always with an essential lyricism. To read Shapiro's work as it unfolds in The Wild Card will be to grasp the depth and breadth of a great poet's career and the many sides of his nature.

About Karl Shapiro

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Karl Shapiro won the Pulitzer Prize in 1945 for V-Letter and Other Poems (1944). Born in Baltimore, he attended the University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins University. After service in the army, he was appointed consultant in poetry at the Library of Congress in 1946 and joined the faculty of Johns Hopkins. There he taught writing courses until his resignation in 1950 to become editor, for a period, of Poetry. Shapiro is an accomplished poet in a wide variety of styles. Like others of his generation, his early work displays a concern with life and institutions of modern society. His later work included a series of bold love poems, The White-Haired Lover (1968). Typical of critics' response to Shapiro is Ralph J. Mills, Jr.'s assessment of The Bourgeois Poet (1964), in which Shapiro "breaks with accepted metrical patterns to attempt a poetry of direct speech. . . ."The Bourgeois Poet' definitely has about it the air of a new imaginative release. Irony and social criticism are still there, but autobiography, invective, heavy doses of sexuality. . . and an occasional prophetic note are now blended together" (Contemporary American Poetry).
Published June 1, 1998 by University of Illinois Press. 224 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Shapiro's influential poems of the 1940s and '50s applied Audenesque techniques and his own metrical facility to then-contemporary, even shocking, subjects: Army life during WWII, when Shapiro served

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The half autobiographical prose-poem series The Bourgeois Poet (1964)--well represented here--gave Shapiro his most individual, most aggressive style, one part Whitman, three parts Philip Roth: ""The kitchens of my neighbors are like cars: what gleaming dials, what toothy enamels, engines that cl...

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