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“Gregg Shapiro’s Refrain in Light, with its sly nod to the 1980’s album by the Talking Heads, is a brilliant book of the historical geography of place, remembering what has come before and celebrating with odes to what is here now. In this Americana road trip of poems you’ll find verse both vintage (a “bicentennial Viewmaster”) and contemporary (“a blue land crab crossing Ocean Drive” in South Beach). Shapiro is a cultural critic and scholar of the heart who asks “whose homeland is this anyway?” In fact, this book is full of questions — What does fire want? What does a tornado want? And Must we listen to songs from the Armageddon soundtrack? Read Refrain in Light to find out. It is only Once in a Lifetime that a poet like Gregg Shapiro comes around.” Denise Duhamel
“Refrain in Light, is a journey along a Rand McNally Road Atlas studded with elemental imagery and distinctly American iconography—looming billboards, crops of soybean and corn, Lewis and Clark, roadkill, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. Shapiro’s poems are relentless in their take down of small minds, social injustice, and the entrenched socio-economic lines that wind their way along the map from Laramie to South Beach, but they are also tender, tinged with melancholy and the want for sweetness, for redemption, for love.” Caridad Moro-Gronlier
“Gregg Shapiro is the supreme guide to the landscape of anxiety. He sees everywhere the looming possibility of disaster—fire, tornado, darkness, a ‘waning moon, covered by a flap of dark sky.’ Glimpsed through a car windshield, apprehension, ‘lurid and familiar,’ waits around every corner. My advice? Keep these magnificent poems close. They are the perfect talismans to ward off calamity.” Kim Roberts
“Gregg Shapiro’s Refrain in Light opens on the wrong side of the tracks and ends in the backyard with questions about the end of the world. From train tracks to apocalypse, the poems in this illuminating and incisive volume of “unguarded intimacy” trace a journey that is geographical, personal, and political. We get at first a wide-angle view of America, in trips across the heartland, “billboards advertising everything from politicians to regional cuisine, adult bookstores to Jesus.” It’s the U.S. as endless prairie, where “you wonder if you saw Lewis and Clark hitchhiking by the side of the road.” But Shapiro intercuts his tart American pastoral with devastating close-ups of individual love and desire. “I tried to love him as much as he loved himself,” a frustrated lover confides, but “the mirror got in the way.” You may be startled to see yourself reflected in this wonderful collection, a picture of the way we live now.” John Weir
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gregg Shapiro is the author of nine books including the poetry chapbook Refrain in Light (Souvenir Spoon Books, 2023). Recent/forthcoming lit-mag publications include The Penn Review, RFD, Gargoyle, Limp Wrist, Mollyhouse, Impossible Archetype, confetti, and Panoplyzine, as well as the anthology Let Me Say This: A Dolly Parton Poetry Anthology (Madville, 2023). An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBTQ+ and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in South Florida with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.