Who is the best American poet writing today? Though the news will not be welcome to prize juries, literary philanthropists, and the people who choose the poems for the subway, I think it may be Frederick Seidel. There is a reason why Mr. Seidel, whose first book was published more than 40 years ago, has not accumulated the cargo of honors that turn so many poets his age into mere worthies: no Pulitzer, no National Book Award. Indeed, if you go to the "about the author" section of Mr. Seidel's new Web site, you will find no curriculum vitae at all. Instead, Mr. Seidel offers a clipping from a 1962 issue of the New York Times, about the controversy that resulted when a panel of poets chose his first collection, "Final Solutions," for the 92nd Street Y's inaugural poetry prize. Though the judges included Robert Lowell, the sponsor refused to publish the book, on the grounds that it libeled a living person. [...]
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