Interview with Natalie Shapero as told to Kerrie Kemperman.
Describe one of your recent projects and what excites you about it.
My forthcoming book, POPULAR LONGING, explores art as a conduit to memory, the financial structures of art institutions as conduits to art, the manufacturing of desire, sex and violence, white walls and white shirts, mythologies of California, corporate pollution, NIMBYism, the phenomenon of changing the subject, the practice of displaying photographs of oneself, and the loneliness of being the only person who is able to remember your own memories.
Do you have a favorite Somerville restaurant, cafe, or other space?
I like Diesel, in large part because of the massive and L-shaped layout. You can kind of get lost in there. By “get lost in there,” I’m not sure if I’m saying that I lose my own sense of place or that I become unfindable to others. Maybe both.
Is there an issue facing poets & writers in Somerville that needs greater attention?
The most pressing issue facing poets and writers in Somerville is a severe and debilitating shortage of luxury condos—it is exceedingly difficult to be creative when one does not have immediate access to Juliet balconies, to quartz countertops, to double-basin en-suite master bathrooms. I’m kidding, obviously. But the issue is housing. Somerville’s escalating affordability crisis threatens artists and workers of all sorts. It imperils the very young. It imperils the very old. I just had a really good conversation with someone who works as a full-time educator in the Somerville schools; I ran into her while she was transacting at the retail job she does on weekends. To make art, to make connections, to make a life that isn’t solely on the clock: one job should be enough. But in Somerville, it isn’t—not when block after block is razed and redone by the highest bidder. We need a large-scale, sustainable way to shield our homes from the speculative market and preserve them for our community. Info at somervillecommunitylandtrust.org.
Where can readers find your work?
My most recent book is HARD CHILD, which is available for purchase at Porter Square Books or online. HARD CHILD is also available through the unparalleled Minuteman Library Network. A few poems are here: https://www.newyorker.com/contributors/natalie-shapero. Links to other poems, as well as info about readings and events, can be found at natalieshapero.com. Twitter is @natalieshapero. Thanks!