Carnegie Mellon University

Cover of Far Out All My Life

December 12, 2020

Lauren Shapiro Publishes New Book of Poetry: "Arena"

Lauren Shapiro, associate professor in the Department of English, released her newest poetry collection, Arena, on October 2nd, 2020. Arena was featured among the Best Poetry of 2020 in the New York Times.


Praise for Arena:

Thoughtfully, painfully, bitterly, lovingly, the poems in Arena expose how the limits of the unreal become real when one is forced to interrogate a family member’s attempted suicide. But what is interrogated and assimilated and articulated is not just death, mourning, loss, and absence. Rather, in Shapiro’s Arena, there is a crowd witnessing and absorbing an artwork where atrocity, bureaucracy, history, and spectacle merge to form a performance that we are unable to look away from. DANIEL BORZUTZKY

Keen-witted, caustic, and resolutely dry-eyed, these poems register a collective alarm in which private grief and global dread converge “at the pace of adrenaline.” SUZANNE BUFFAM

Is it possible to observe the suffering of others without turning their suffering into spectacle? Shapiro suggests that we can do so whenever we bring ourselves whole to each other, but none of us, Shapiro understands, is whole. Shapiro sees through the distracting strangeness of the present moment to the truths about ourselves that the present moment reveals. SHANE MCCRAE

Arena touches that place where we thought we were safe in our untouchedness. [These] poems are so fluid, fast, dark, witty, and rueful. DARCIE DENNIGAN

Shapiro never flinches from suffering; no one should read this book without being prepared to be dragged up and down and through the rage and suffering suicide delivers. DARA WIER