Popular Longing

Natalie Shapero

The poems of Natalie Shapero’s third collection, Popular Longing, highlight the ever-increasing absurdity of our contemporary life. With her sharp, sardonic wit, Shapero deftly captures human meekness in all its forms: our senseless wars, our inflated egos, our constant deference to presumed higher powers―be they romantic partners, employers, institutions, or gods. “Why even / look up, when all we’ll see is people / looking down?” In a world where everyone has to answer to someone, it seems no one is equipped to disrupt the status quo, and how the most urgent topics of conversation can only be approached through refraction. By scrutinizing the mundane and all that is taken for granted, these poems arrive at much wider vistas, commenting on human sadness, memory, and mortality. Punchy, fearlessly ironic, and wickedly funny, Popular Longing articulates what it means to share a planet, for better or more often for worse, with other people.

ISBN: 9781556595882

Format: Paperback

About the Author

Natalie Shapero is a professor of the practice of poetry at Tufts University. Her most recent poetry collection is Hard Child (Copper Canyon, 2017), which was shortlisted for the Griffin International Poetry Prize. Her previous collection, No Object (Saturnalia, 2013), received the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award. Natalie’s writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Poetry, and elsewhere, and she is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Ruth …

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“These poems are as witty as they are wise. Shapero dismantles the mundane violence of everyday life with aplomb. If you can’t shake the absurdity of contemporary society, Popular Longing will feel like home.” — The New York Public Library

“Like Natalie Shapero’s previous collections “No Object” and “Hard Child,” the poems in “Popular Longing” are the perfect combination of dark, smart, and funny — because if we weren’t laughing, we’d be…what? Unable to go on, I think. The speakers of these poems are like dear friends who get how bad things are, but who can still laugh — and make you laugh — at the absurdity of it all. Shapero’s is exactly the voice I need right now.” — Maggie Smith

“The intersections and disjunctions of art and money, war and desire, labor and pleasure, animate this incisive poetry collection. With a deadpan, surrealistic posture, Shapero investigates the juxtapositions and banalities that define contemporary existence. She considers the notion of transcendence in a world driven by consumerism. In a sonnet sequence, she muses over the value of art and the implications of its destruction. By examining the lenses of nostalgia, appraisal, and surveillance, these poems also interrogate the power dynamics of looking.”—The New Yorker

“Shapero’s giddy, acerbic work is alert to the comedy of disconnection.”—The New York Times

“These poems feel chatty, associative, almost tossed off despite their sonic tightness, carefully arranged to sound improvised. Shapero aspires to replace the obvious architectonics of other poetry with her own appalled, off-the-cuff humour, the tapestry of everyday experience with a series of sharp blades. That means the cuts are the tapestry.” —Stephanie Burt, London Review of Books

“Natalie Shapero is the poet I’d most like to have at a dinner party, and Popular Longing is a perfect example of why. Her sharp observations of human weirdness are just unparalleled. Popular Longing is cutting, clever, and a criticism of modern culture. Shapero knows no bounds here, and it makes for a remarkable read.” —Electric Lit

“These poems are unsparing in their critiques of the self, the greed of capitalism, and violence; yet there is tenderness and human solidarity, a wish for something better, even if it feels like the odds are stacked against humanity, ‘Unseen as we are in this life.’ Shapero is a poet willing to go deep into the collective heart of humanity to find the truth, however it humors or hurts. No book captures the loneliness of witness like this one.”—Publishers Weekly

“…In her new book, Popular Longing, poet Natalie Shapero takes a blunt, funny look at the things we’d prefer to avoid… Using her sharp wit, Shapero looks at how we often use our own wit, joking about things that are too uncomfortable for regular conversation.”—NPR

“Here the oddities of our very human lives are keenly observed in bright lyric perfection… Shapero’s insights are bold, metaphysical, and serpentine… ‘Don’t Spend It All in One Place,’ the book’s longest poem, is a masterful romp through Shapero’s quick-witted and asymmetrical mode of thinking. It’s funny and serious all at once, like so much of our lives.”—Booklist

“In Popular Longing, Griffin Prize shortlistee Natalie Shapero confronts life’s absurdities with decided brio.”—Library Journal

“Natalie Shapero’s dark, delightful, and insightful collection is both a clear-eyed reflection of and an antidote for our times.”—Ploughshares

“Shapero’s ‘I’ voice is so sharp and personable that it establishes intimacy despite the distance, like someone brilliant we just met at a party whispering in our ears… In the end, she strikes a balance between the depressing and the humorous, triviality and wisdom, a rare feat in American poetry.”—Kenyon Review

“There are no easy answers in Popular Longing. Sometimes, Shapero deftly skewers the ridiculous things people like to tell themselves, like ‘Death is a part of life’ and ‘Everybody’s working for the weekend’. But other times, in the middle of picking something apart, she realizes she’s totally forgotten why a rule or a saying is true. Popular Longing dissects so well what’s taken for granted, but it’s also sharply realistic about why it dissects, and teases, in the first place: ‘Mocking…/…helps me forget / about all the times it has of course happened.’”—The Columbia Review

“Throughout Popular Longing, Natalie Shapero’s deadpan humor and striking lyricism are the spoonful of sugar that helps you to swallow a mouthful of glass. These poems have hard, sharp edges but you don’t even notice until you’ve gulped a whole delicious one down and feel the bloody catch in your throat. And then, of course, there’s no turning back.”—The Cortland Review

“Shapero’s new collection is energetic, wistful, and comic to its core.”—AGNI

As featured in:

Library Journal, “Books and Authors to Know: Poetry Titles to Watch 2021”

NPR’s Morning Edition

The New York Times, New & Notable Poetry

The New York Public Library, Best Books for Adults 2021