Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Thursday, May Day: Alan Shapiro at UCI

Alan Shapiro, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, has published ten books of poetry, most recently, Old War (Houghton Mifflin 2008). He has been the winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award, an LA Times Book Award, and a finalist in poetry and nonfiction for the National Books Critics Circle Award. A recipient of two awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, the O.B. Hardison Jr. Poetry Prize from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C., the Sarah Teasdale Award from Wellesley College, and an award in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Shapiro teaches at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he is the William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing.

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

135 Humanities Instructional Building, UC Irvine


A poem:

by Alan Shapiro

I saw him as I drove by—
I don't have to tell you what he looked like—
Spreading a plastic sheet out
As for a picnic
Except he wasn't picnicking;
He was lying down to sleep
In the middle of the sidewalk
In the middle of the day
On a busy street,
The spoils of him lying there
For everyone to gawk at
Or step around.
And when I drove by later
The same day, and then again still later
Late that night,
He was still there, sleeping,
And maybe I slowed down
To check on him or got him at least a blanket,
Or called an ambulance,
But whatever I did or didn't do
I did it to forget that
Either way
He was the one asleep on the sidewalk,
I was the one borne along in the car
That may as well have been a chariot
Of empathy, a chariot
The crowd cheers
Even as it weeps
For the captured elephant too wide
To squeeze through
The triumphal arch
And draw home
To bed my sweet
Sensitive Caesar of a soul.

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