Frederick Seidel -- a protege of Ezra Pound and a founding editor of The Paris Review -- is in the running for the lucrative Griffin Poetry Prize.The Canadian short list, meanwhile, includes two poets from Toronto as well as veteran wordsmith Don McKay from Victoria.The prize, created seven years ago by Toronto businessman Scott Griffin along with trustees who include writers Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje, awards $50,000 to the best book of Canadian poetry and $50,000 to the best book of international poetry. [...]
Seidel's first collection, Final Solutions, created a controversy in 1962 when it was chosen by a jury of Louise Bogan, Stanley Kunitz, and Robert Lowell for an award sponsored by the 92nd Street Y which included a $1,500 honorarium and publication by Atheneum Press. The Y rejected the manuscript, claiming that one of the poems libeled a famous living person and Seidel was unwilling to make the requested edits. In protest, Stanley Kunitz resigned as director of the Poetry Center's workshop, along with Betty Kray, who had worked as the executive secretary for twelve years. Initially, Atheneum agreed to publish the book, even without the Y's support, explaining to the New York Times: "The poetic diction and style may have obscured the intended message, but it is a sincere, honest, and dramatic work of great intensity and was selected by the unanimous decision of three distinguished judges." However, Atheneum eventually dropped the book and it was later published with Random House. Seidel did not publish another book for seventeen years. [...]
FLESHING out Seidel's biography is not easy. He refuses to make public appearances or give readings. He was born in 1936 in St Louis, graduated from Harvard University, and lives in New York City. He has been married and divorced and has two children. In the early 1960s he worked at Paris Review and was an occasional lecturer at Rutgers University.It's not clear how he makes his living but it may be as a screenwriter: he has cowritten several filmscripts with Mark Peploe, including Samson and Delilah and Afraid of the Dark. Sunrise was dedicated to Jill and Bernardo Bertolucci.In other words, he travels light, without the backdraft of biographical details or insinuations that allow one to strap his work to the armature of a flesh-and-blood life. He is the author of 14 books and a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize, in 1999. [...]
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You might be interested to know that Don McKay has an upcoming audio release with Rattling Books titled 'Songs for the Songs of Birds.' Poetry is always better out loud, and we've got releases from Mary Dalton, Michael Crummey, Agnes Walsh and John Steffler, Canada's Parliamentary Poet Laureate. Visit us at Rattling Books.
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