Natalie Shapero

Hard Child

Griffin Poetry Prize 2018
International Shortlist

Book: Hard Child

Poet: Natalie Shapero

Publisher: Copper Canyon Press

Click here to read an excerpt.

Natalie Shapero


Natalie Shapero is the Professor of the Practice of Poetry at Tufts University and an editor at large of the Kenyon Review. Her first poetry collection, No Object, was published by Saturnalia Books in 2013. Natalie’s writing has appeared in publications such as The Nation, The New Republic, The New Yorker, Poetry, and The Progressive. She holds degrees in creative writing and in law and has worked as a litigation fellow with Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Her awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, a Kenyon Review Fellowship, and a Great Lakes College Association New Writers Award.

Judges’ Citation

“The poems in Natalie Shapero’s Hard Child come as close as lyric poems can to perfection. We feel the effect of them before noticing their machinery. Yet every poetic instinct Shapero possesses, every decision of line, image, stanza, diction, and tone, results in poems that are limber, athletic, powerful, and balanced. And behind her technical choices lie an emerging ethics: “I don’t want any more of what I have. / I don’t want another spider plant. I don’t //want another lover.” Her poems take us to the purest evolutionary point of the lyric form through their single-speaker stance, the movement of a mind over subjects, the emotional weight carried on the backs of images, the unpredictable associations, the satisfying call-backs. She teaches us how to retain the self without disappearing into the object we behold. She holds herself at various distances from the thing considered. She drives us toward a view and back again. This is how to write a lyric poem.”

Not Horses

What I adore is not horses, with their modern
domestic life span of 25 years. What I adore
is a bug that only lives one day, especially if
it’s a terrible day, a day of train derailment or
chemical lake or cop admits to cover-up, a day
when no one thinks of anything else, least of all
that bug. I know how it feels, born as I’ve been
into these rotting times, as into sin. Everybody’s
busy, so distraught they forget to kill me,
and even that won’t keep me alive. I share
my home not with horses, but with a little dog
who sees poorly at dusk and menaces stumps,
makes her muscle known to every statue.
I wish she could have a single day of language,
so that I might reassure her don’t be afraid
our whole world is dead and so can do you no harm.

From Hard Child by Natalie Shapero
Copyright © 2017 by Natalie Shapero

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