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Players in the Dream, Dreamers in the Play

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Usually, for me, flying isnít the best way to spend my time. I commuted by plane from Valdosta, Georgia, to Central Illinois every week for two years, and doing that kind of traveling will sour you pretty much on being in close quarters with extremely strange strangers. But donít get me wrong, I would have taken to Marian Shapiroís poems even if I wasnít flying.

The voice in her poems is a calm, smart, affirmative voice. It reminds me of one of my favorite poets, Elizabeth Bishop. Bishop can take the most harrowing sort of experience and see it plainly and lovingly.

I felt this throughout Marianís book, but maybe I felt it most in her poem ďInside Looking OutĒ; two worlds come together suddenly in that poem, and one of the worlds is scary and threatening, but Marianís voice and the surprise in it makes that world a puzzle and a mystery to be examined and wondered over.

Marianís not frightened or shaken in her poems, just amazed and wondering. It's the way kids are when they meet "the strange." They want to look and consider; they want to play with the mystery and the strange things they find in it. If youíve ever seen children looking at a chicken and wondering about it, you will know exactly what I mean.

That's the image I get most fully and most often from Marianís fine poems, the image of someone playing with the things we don't understand or the things we fear. I don't mean ďplayingĒ in any kind of goofy way, but rather in a serious way, the way children and the best artists play with the strange gifts the world offers them.

I see this in so many of Marianís poems, in the things she writes about and the ways she writes about them. These are poems to read over and over again, whenever we need to remind ourselves that the world's troubles and mysteries are maybe best viewed with calm and wonder and love.

John Guzlowski, poet
Date Added: 06/16/2007 by Marian Shapiro
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