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Harvey Shapiro (poet)

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Harvey Shapiro January 27, 1924 – January 7, 2013 was an American poet and editor of The New York Times He wrote a dozen books of poetry from 1953 to 2006, writing in epigrammatic style about things in his everyday life As an editor, he was always affiliated with The New York Times in some capacity, mainly in the magazine and book reviews, from 1957 to 2005


  • 1 Early life and the war
  • 2 Newspaper career
  • 3 Poet
  • 4 Personal life
  • 5 References

Early life and the war

Harvey Irwin Shapiro was born in Chicago on January 27, 1924 into a Jewish family from Kiev He spoke Yiddish When he was a boy, his family moved to Manhattan and later to Long Island He studied at Yale University but joined the Army Air Forces when World War II broke out He flew 35 combat missions over Europe as a B-17 tail gunner and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross He returned to Yale to earn a bachelor's degree in English in 1947 and a master's degree in American literature from Columbia University in 1948

Newspaper career

Shapiro spent the first half of the 1950s teaching English at Cornell University and Bard College He then became an assistant editor at Commentary magazine and was the poetry editor at The Village Voice and a fiction editor at The New Yorker before joining The New York Times in 1957 He worked in various editorial positions there—The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review from 1975 to 1983 and deputy editor of the magazine Perhaps the most notable non-achievement at The New York Times was in 1962 when he had read that civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King, Jr had been put in jail He phoned Dr King's foundation, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and suggested that, the next time King was put in jail, he should compose a letter to publish This letter became the Letter from Birmingham Jail, after Dr King was arrested for the Birmingham campaign in April 1963 Shapiro's superiors would not allow him to print Dr King's letter in The New York Times, but the letter was printed elsewhere 50 times in 325 editions, including Dr King's own book Why We Can't Wait


Shapiro continued to write poetry while working as an editor, publishing a dozen books, such as The Eye 1953, The Light Holds 1984 and National Cold Storage Company 1988 He also edited an anthology entitled Poets of World War II His poetry often displayed a subtle sense of humor

Personal life

Shapiro was married to and later divorced from Edna Lewis Kaufman He resided in Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn until his death on January 7, 2013 after complications of recent surgery Shapiro is survived by his two sons, Saul and Dan He was 88 years old


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Fox, Margalit January 7, 2013 "Harvey Shapiro, Poet and Editor, Dies at 88" The New York Times Retrieved January 9, 2013 
  2. ^ a b c Schachar, Natalie January 9, 2013 "Harvey Shapiro 1924-2013" Tablet Magazine Retrieved January 9, 2013 

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