On October 24, I was about to experience a poetry reading by David Shapiro. This was the first time that I was in person listening to a poet recite his poems, and it felt anticlimactic. Throughout this session, he read from his newest book, New and selected Poems and from another older book that he had published. Not only did we experience him reading, but we also learned about his life as an exceptional violinist, as a father, and as a poem critic. He told us about his struggle between his two passions: writing poetry and playing the violin, and expressed the difficulties of trying to “do everything”. David emphasized that it cannot be done. One of the two will always get cut short.
Another interesting comment that he made was about his sons poetry. He told us that his son had started writing poetry around an extremely young age, possibly around the age of 4, and that those were the best poems that his son has ever written. This was extremely pertinent to David’s writing, because he believes that his best writing is when he tries to recreate the thoughts of a young child. The simplicity that children have is hard to grasp as the years go on, and it allows the poems to hold grand significance. Lastly, he talked about what it is like to produce bad poetry. And this part of the session stuck with me, because I truly believed that there was no such thing as bad poetry. I was under the impression that each poem held a certain weight of significance, and that poems were hard to compare to any scale. Though, he was adamant about how some poets have gone back and rewritten works of art and come out with worse poetry.
Now, even though the actual comments David made were quite interesting, his actually reading could not hold my interest. I felt like it would have really helped if I could see the poems as he was reading them, because he sometimes could not be heard and other times he went too fast. Also, I have heard a lot about how the poems can come to life when read, and I just did not feel that with his reading. Though, his poems were quite interesting and seemed indirectly connected.
After the event, I looked up some other poems by David, and found “Princess Summer Fall Winter Spring”. From what I can tell, David has a wild range of topics for his poems, and this one fits right into that broad range. This poem tells of a contestant in this beauty pageant, and expresses the sadness of the situation. She has sacrificed a lot to get to where she is now, yet she is completely alone. Though, I like how it is so curt and yet, I feel as if he has put himself into the shoes of this miss universe character instead of the outsiders view of this type of activity. I believe there might be another hidden message inside of this poem, which is also intriguing. It seems simple, but most of his poems have deeper meanings.
Overall, David Shapiro’s reading has allowed me to take away wholesome lessons about pursing anything deeply and that writing is critiqued and should be to allow writers to not move backwards, and instead improve their writing. Even though the reading itself distanced myself from the actual text, his writings were informative and personal. This experience has definitely encouraged me to check out other writers performing.