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Seidel, Frederick

Entry updated 10 May 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1936-    ) US poet active from the end of the 1950s, his Poetry being highly contentious from the beginning of his career when his first book, Final Solutions (coll 1963 chap), was rejected for publication after winning a YMCA-funded contest judged by Louise Bogan, Stanley Kunitz and Robert Lowell. The three judges resigned in protest; and Seidel's at times scatologically Satirical response to American organized Religion and Politics only grew harsher with time. His verse seems free, but formal patterns are insistently present, often marked by seemingly outrageous rhymes. Poems 1959-2009 (omni 2009) was close to complete at that date, but has been supplemented by further volumes, the most interesting being perhaps Widening Income Inequality (coll 2016) and Peaches Goes It Alone (coll 2018).

Over and above the present-tense transgressiveness of his work in general, of specific sf interest is The Cosmos Poems Trilogy comprising The Cosmos Poems (coll 2000 chap), Life on Earth (coll 2001 chap) and Area Code 212 (coll 2002 chap). The sequence begins with a series of poems in which Cosmology and fragments of personal narrative clash, and ends (as the title of the final volume indicates) in Manhattan (see New York), which is seen as hovering at the edge of an apocalyptic century:

This is my 21st century in hell.
I stab the sword into the smell.
I am the sword of sunrise flying into Area Code 212
To flense the people in the buildings, and the buildings into dew.


Frederick Seidel

born St Louis, Missouri: 19 February 1936

works (selected)


Cosmos Poems Trilogy

  • The Cosmos Poems (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000) [poetry: coll: chap: A4-size format: Cosmos Poems Trilogy: illus/pb/Anselm Kiefer]
  • Life on Earth (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001) [poetry: coll: chap: Cosmos Poems Trilogy: hb/Peter A Anderson]
  • Area Code 212 (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002) [poetry: coll: chap: Cosmos Poems Trilogy: hb/Peter A Anderson]

individual titles

  • Poems 1959-2009 (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009) [poetry: omni: assembling all earlier volumes (most not here listed) including the Cosmos Poems Trilogy above: hb/Peter A Anderson]
  • Widening Income Inequality (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016) [poetry: coll: hb/from Tullio Crali]
  • Peaches Goes It Alone (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018) [poetry: coll: hb/The Douglas Brothers]
  • Selected Poems (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020) [poetry: coll: hb/Richard Oriolo]


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