Lynn Mayson Shapiro (Nov. 16, 1957 - Nov. 19, 2011)

(Nov. 16, 1957 - Nov. 19, 2011)Lynn Mayson Shapiro was born in Washington D.C., and raised in Cambridge, MA. She attended Smith College and graduated from NYU with a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts (Dance). She choreographed for her own company, The Lynn Shapiro Dance Company, and won several awards for her work, among them fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, The Jerome Foundation, and The New York Foundation for the Arts. 

After the birth of her daughter, Ava, in 1998 she focused exclusively on writing. Her poem, Sloan Kettering, won The Pushcart Prize in 2008. Other poems have appeared in the publications Rattle, and Mudfish . A piece excerpted from her memoir entitled, "Savage Love at Beth Israel," was published in the literary journal, Fifth Wednesday, and was nominated by board of editors for a Pushcart Prize. 

Ms. Shapiro died November 19, 2011 at Beth Israel Hospital, succumbing to complications from breast cancer. She left a memoir unfinished and is survived by her daughter and her husband."New Love" The Collected Poetry is Released

"New Love" The Collected Poetry is Released

After Lynn's death numerous unpublished poems were found on her computer. Her husband, the cellist Erik Friedlander, has gathered them all in this collection. You can purchase the paperback ($10.50) or download the pdf for free. 

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Published Pushcart Prize 2008

Sloane Kettering

One thing they don't tell you about Sloane Kettering
is how beautiful the workers are, shepherdesses, sirens, 
brawny football players, ready to lift the heaviest bodies. One, 
rosy as a mountain child moves like the most even glare of light, 
never turns away till you have risen to follow her. 
She holds your paper file near her breasts, but not too tight. 
Walls are paved with photographs, scenes of mountains, forests
carved by light. The chemotherapy suite is a skylight, a bubble. 
You pass posters for support groups presented on easels like paintings
in progress. There are private rooms for each patient with chairs
and blankets and a straight backed chair for a companion if you have one, 
and a little television with its snake arm, riveted into the wall. 
In the center of all these private rooms are gatherings of high stalked flowers, 
magenta, purple, amber, bursting higher than churches, in golden vases
everywhere, and the carpet is gold too, so padded you can hear
no sound of walking. There are so many workers here, 
and your surgeon, Alexandra, is the most beautiful worker of all. 
Her office where you wait is the color of cool green and mountain cream. 
There is a computer pulsing out deep blue insignias like ointment. 
Next to it is a magazine, half the cover missing, torn, or half eaten, 
waiting for you to touch it in the same place as the person before you. 
You dont and this decision, its stillness, its inability to reverse is profound
and stagnant. Outside, in the hallway other doctors stand leaning, writing
with the concentration of animals eating food, whose only purpose
is to become blind to everything but their own sustenance.
And she is the Sun. She is beautiful when she enters, says How
are you? You lean on her are. She opens your robe like the earth, 
and you say, I used to have beautiful breasts, and she says, You still
do, and she cups your breasts. This is her special way. She cups
each one, then combs down, down with her fingers as if down
the side of a mountain she is scaling tenderly so as not to fall
once. She half closes your garment and you close the rest. 
You watch her fingers leave your robe how they arc in the air
to papers on her desk, and you realize that at various times
in the past five years you have thought of her fingers, their short
nails, and how she called you and said into the mouth of her phone,
really as an afterthought, that in the site of the malignancy we found
a little milk. A little she said, like the purr of a cat, and you could see
her fingers, her surgeons fingers holding her own childrens milk bottles, 
and then as you will always, you will want to be like her, to save lives
during the day, then go home, feed your children at night. You remember the way
out on the soundless carpet. Your husband is with you, murmurs, your husband
the lobby, just as you remember, in subtle shades, tones green and gold.

Fall 2010 issue (#7) of Fifth Wednesday Literary Journal

excerpted Savage Love at Beth Isreal from Lynn's memoir

Contributors: Jonis Agee, Susan Hahn, John Knoepfle, Norman Lock, John Martino, Donald Revell, Lynn Shapiro, Barry Silesky, Brent Spencer, Jean Valentine, and more.

Buy this issue  |  Read Online


For many years Lynn was a dancer. Then, in her early 30s, she became a choreographer. It was some of the happiest and toughest years of her life. She stopped choreographing and began writing in her early 40s.

"Intrigued by the Biblical, the Mythical, and the archetypical, Shapiro works her visions brilliantly in unusual imagery, the nightmarish quality leavened by a fine use of music and a small cadre of exotic and powerful performers. She's one of the most exciting new choreographers I've seen in the last decade." -DANCE MAGAZINE


"Following Lynn Shapiro into the heart of her dances is a little like the trip through the overgrown forest to find Sleeping Beauty. Ms. Shapiro has a strong but understated sense of theatere and, a rare gift, a feeling of succintness." --The New York Times

"Visceral and psychological..Shapiro makes you shudder." 
-Boston Herald

Dancers: Romina Pedroli, Niles Ford, Marlon Barrios, Matthew Brookoff