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Seidel is the great controversialist of American poetry. Dubbed a ‘transgressive adventurer,’ a ‘demonic gentleman,’ a ‘triumphant outsider,’ a ‘great poet of innocence,’ and ‘an example of the dangerous Male of the Species’, his sly, witty and wide-eyed poems seem earnest one moment and flippant the next, and will see him rotating his caustic fire from high-society cocktail parties to street-level poverty, genocide to Obamacare, New York to Syria. He’s never more than a turn-line from humour, and it is often when he is at his funniest that he is also at his most shocking.
The Independent said of his last collection: ‘There is no contemporary poet writing in English as witty, as shrewd, as touching and as debonair as Frederick Seidel. That’s a lot of praise, but he surely merits it.’
Widening Income Inequality, Seidel’s new collection, is a rhymed magnificence of sexual, historical, and cultural exuberance. Rarely has poetry been this dapper, or this dire, or this true.
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