The portrait these letters paint of an artist trying to hone his craft at all costs transforms them from obscure Proustiana into a richer portrait of Proust the man, neighbor, and writer.
Written in 1958 but given due packaging in a new book from Song Cave, Lionel Ziprin’s “Songs for Schizoid Siblings” are, at the simplest assessment, a historical oddity.
The subtle mark of Smith’s excellence is how each poem arrives where it’s at—meeting both itself and the world, inhabiting them at once and entirely.
“Simple images, such as the dandelion in the sidewalk crack or ice in lemonade, invite us to compare our own experience and find meaning where there was none before. More complex, but equally intangible experiences can be found in poems like ‘Rearrangements,’ which explores the aftereffects of covert child abuse, although each victim is different.”
Think of Shapero instead as a kind of poetic Louis C.K. — the misery is part of the act. Yes, you’re supposed to laugh: “All I have coming in this / world is a joke that hits me later.” And like the best stand-up comedy routines, her poems have solid opening hooks, a finely wrought structure, and a resonance, a truth, beyond what is directly expressed.