STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Let's talk now about the author of a new book of poems, it's called "Popular Longing." And the poet is Natalie Shapero, who writes of people avoiding hard truths.
NATALIE SHAPERO: A lot of what I try to do in my work is write poems that are in conversation with the ways in which we don't talk about things in a straightforward way, the way in which we talk around difficult subjects or taboo subjects.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Talk around them or laugh about them. Shapero knows people can use humor to address things that feel uncomfortable.
SHAPERO: The strategy of the poems is to sort of use irony to hit things from the side and to use jokes in ways that make the poems potentially sadder than they would be if they didn't have humor in them.
MARTIN: Here she is reading an excerpt of her poem "Five By Seven."
SHAPERO: (Reading) From the recent restaurant boom, infer a citywide uptick in rage-ravaged homes. People want new spots to fight, to squall and snipe, lose their appetites, be brought the chalkboard special, not touch it, see it whisked to the kitchen and scraped out back for a dog to eat. But that's cool. Dogs have to eat, too.
INSKEEP: Shapero says she would like to expose people's self-absorption.
SHAPERO: It's a task of living in our world to be cognizant of the ways in which we're invited again and again to feel like the real work of our lives is to take care of ourselves rather than to look outward.
INSKEEP: Natalie Shapero's book of poems is called "Popular Longing."
(SOUNDBITE OF LITTLE DRAGON SONG, "NEW FICTION")
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