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This new selection and retrospect of the poetry of Frederick Seidel celebrates the career of an American original, and introduces one of the most remarkable of contemporary poets to English readers. Seidel writes about the present state of things – public and private – with inspired brio, malice and disabused omniscience. Over the course of a dozen books his work has matured into an encyclopaedia of modern atmospheres. The Selected Poems is its distillation.
‘Frederick Seidel is coming…He is the poet the century deserved. Dip a stick into the twentieth century and it comes up dripping the sort of sludge Seidel has had the courage never to forget to taste, word by word. He lurks around like an ugly conscience. His artistry is justly fierce. He has bound one resource of modern poetry – vernacular speech – in a smoking sheath.’ Calvin Bedient, Boston Review
‘His words come at us as if spontaneously provoked into being by the volatile realities he is discovering. His poems celebrate themselves, and their author, in a manner that makes him the true heir of Walt Whitman. It is as if the poems emerge from what can be recognised as our future.’
Richard Poirier, Raritan
‘Life on Earth is typically up-to-the-minute. Seidel’s early aura of rancid privilege (in the great poems of Sunrise) is complicated by feints of abstraction and it marches at times to a trashy stomp. It’s an exemplary book, Seidel’s best, and one of the best by an American poet in the past twenty years.’ Michael Hofmann, Times Literary Supplement
‘I spent that evening with three of Seidel’s collections. Some of it was profoundly beautiful. This sort of poem was atypical, however. Generally, reading Seidel was like riding shotgun on a Ducati racer. Quick propulsive speed and sudden screeching stops, hairpin turns into spooky alleys. His voice and verse were razor-edged, the writing willing to say the unsayable.’ Philip Connors, N+1
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