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Night of the Republic

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  73 ratings  ·  19 reviews
An urgent and timely collection by one of America’s most inventive and accessible poets

In Night of the Republic, Alan Shapiro takes us on an unsettling night tour of America’s public places—a gas station restroom, shoe store, convention hall, and race track among others—and in stark Edward Hopper–like imagery reveals the surreal and dreamlike features of these familiar but
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published January 17th 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2012)
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James Murphy
There are 2 sections of poems here describing empty night in the public places of America. They carry the atmosphere of a studied Kerouac essay exactly detailing the texture of loneliness in the heart of a city. The stark sterility of the famous Edward Hopper painting Nighthawks comes to mind, too. Sterility figures heavily in the quality of the light. As you might expect of poems about night, they describe how these public places, abandoned until morning, are lighted. For that reason I think it ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This volume was nominated for a 2012 National Book Award. I should create a shelf for "not my style," because that's the best summary I can give it. It feels like the poet walked around town one night and wrote a poem about each place he saw. His structures are overly limiting with little variety between them, and it makes for pretty dry reading. The poems seem to imagine what might be true about a place, instead of resonating in truth.
Clark Hays
Hipstamatic poetry

Blame it on the subject matter perhaps -- empty public spaces at night -- but I found this collection of poetry a little disappointing. This is probably an unreasonable expectation on my part, but I find poetry the most successful when it forces readers to look past the surface of things and ponder their own emotional responses. Mr. Shapiro's poetry seems focused almost solely on describing the very surface of appearance. Even clever descriptions of things and places -- and he
anthony e.
Poetry and I have a unique relationship: I adore it as a means of expression so fully that I am, most times, almost afraid to read it, as doing so seems to diminish the almost Platonic Ideal I have foisted upon it. That said, when I do engage with a poet's work, I am frequently enthralled by them in short gasps, while for long stretches the play out my terrible fears in streams of lyrical beauty.

Alan Shapiro could be their mascot. Night of the Republic is a marvelous, high-concept work, insofar
I think the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Alan Shapiro's "Night of the Republic" is that he has a fondness for place and what it conveys in the absences of unfilled spaces. I think the theme of this particular idea is fascinating - being able to have an eye view of an empty place at night and being able to see what's missing from it with the lack of activity/passage of time. Yet, for the idea that's conveyed with this, I don't know if the collection as a whole suggests this as w ...more
Reading Alan Shapiro's latest collection, “Night of the Republic,” on might reasonably ask whether one can produce extraordinary art on topics such as a downtown strip club or a hospital examination room. The answer to this question lies in the ability of the artist to reach through and beyond his subject to massage out some deeper truth within such otherwise pedestrian surroundings.

On this score, Shapiro plainly succeeds. The poet considers the space which these poems describe, but they do so
Wow. So incredibly keenly observed, with such loving attention, that you are transported to these places you've seen before but likely never thought to write about. Shapiro will make you jealous if you're a poet, and if you aren't, or don't read much poetry, these poems are interesting, accessible, and heartfelt enough to make a poetry lover out of you. Divided into 4 sections, the book starts out intriguingly with "Night of the Republic", showing us places we've all seen and been before, from n ...more
Elizabeth B
Poetry has always eluded me. Although I’ve attempted to read it for many years, it’s only been a rare poem that caught my attention – Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, Robert Penn Warren. It often feels inaccessible to me, that I am constantly either trying to read too much into the words or the words are completely above my understanding. When I happened upon this collection by Shapiro, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s not only accessible but understandable. The collection of everyday places and thin ...more
Apr 10, 2012 Leah rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry

The block is empty. I'm the boy there in the street,
Looking downhill for you to turn the corner,
Out of the avenue where horn blare, veils

Of exhaust, and strangers in a hurrying sleepwalk
Through each other tell me you'll be here soon.
And soon is home, and home is when at last

Your any moment now sensation brings
Out of the day's dull glint and inching flow
The look and bearing of a just for me

Unearned, unjustified, imagined face
That's all I need, so long as it's arriving,
That's mine till your
Craig Werner
I feel like I should like this book better than I do. Shapiro bounces off the kind of scenes that often couple me: sets from Tom Waits songs or Dennis Johnson short stories. The margins of America. HIs language is spare, unsentimental. And by the time I was a third of the way through I was pretty deeply bored. Part of it's the absence of people who move through the sets, part of it's a sense that Phil Levine has done all of this with a much more profound sense of how this world doesn't just happ ...more
Steven Tomcavage
Alan Shapiro has a masterful hand for poetry. I only wish he had sought to include human life in this book. The idea of visiting various locations at night is great, and the locations are emblematic of contemporary American society, but they all feel so sterile without occupation. The occasional human presence is composed of dead-eyed slaves to the worst in our society. I've been out in America at night, and it's not the post-apocalyptic isolation presented here. But the way that Shapiro imbues ...more
Rebecca Schwarz
Some of these poems really hit the mark. Shapiro can imbue the everyday with an elegiac tone that creates a mood of nostalgia. My favorites were Car Dealership at 3 a.m., Park Bench, Stone Church, and Hallway. You can see just by the titles that he works with what's at hand. His close observations are sometimes tied to memories of childhood or simply other times and places. Other poems missed the mark for me, and when they did, they came off as a bit trite. But all in all it was worth my time.
Roy Kesey
Terrific language work at regular intervals as Shapiro takes the US on its own terms at night. Many clean little puzzles left for us to solve. “Supermarket at 3 a.m.” reads like early Coover, except capable of happiness. Such amazing control in “Park Bench.” Big moments of wisdom in the whole final section, a series of poems all in three-line stanzas, all of exactly equal length, the book-as-object probably built to fit them.
Patti K
A 2012 finalist for the National Book Award in poetry, this volume portrays
a town in the middle of the night. The Dry Cleaner, The Gas Station, The
Playground, etc. He uses a lot of prepositional phrases stacked upon one
another like the cans in "Supermarket at 3AM." They are stark, highly
descriptive poems that catch the spirit of the town at night. A portrait
of silences and empty spaces.
Terri Jacobson
A great collection of poems. A group of them are about public spaces during the night when they are deserted (hence the title). Very Edward Hopper-esque. Beautiful imagery.
Chris Wardhaugh
One of the best collections I've read in a long time. Made me think of Richard Hugo's Triggering Town.
Bob Lopez
nothing really super special save one or two poems, Galaxy Formation, in particular, was the best.
Last two sections are boss.
Phyllis Katz
Great collection!
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Alan Shapiro (born 1952) is an American poet and professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the author of nine poetry books, including Tantalus in Love, Song and Dance, and The Dead Alive and Busy.

In addition to poetry, Alan Shapiro has also published two personal memoirs, Vigil and The Last Happy Occasion.
More about Alan Shapiro...
Broadway Baby Song and Dance: Poems Tantalus in Love Old War: Poems The Dead Alive and Busy

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