Karl Shapiro (1913-2000)
Karl Shapiro (1913-2000) wrote ten books of poetry, three books of essays, an autobiography, and one book of fiction. After attending college at the University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins University, he served in the Army for the whole duration of WWII. While in the war, he wrote poems and sent them home to his fiancée, who had them published. His book V-Letter and Other Poems (1945) won the Pulitzer Prize. Shapiro then worked as editor of Poetry magazine for two years, and went on to teach English at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, where he edited Prairie Schooner for ten years. He later served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress for a term (1946-47). As a Jew, he was passionate about Jewish rights and opposed the Bollingen Prize given to Ezra Pound because of the anti-Semitism expressed in Pound's work. Shapiro’s honors included a Levinson Prize, the Contemporary Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Shelley Memorial Prize. He often wrote in traditional verse forms, and is noted for his powerful yet detached insights in his poetry. A few more of his poetry books were Adult Bookstore (1976), Essay on Rime (1945), and Trial of a Poet (1947).
Written by Monica Root, December 2013.