Poet Samuel Menashe has died


This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

Samuel Menashe, a New York-based poet, died Monday night in his sleep. He was 85.

Menashe was the first poet to receive the Neglected Masters Award from the Poetry Foundation, which he received in 2004. To accompany the award, ‘Samuel Menashe: New and Selected Poems,’ edited by Christopher Ricks, was published by the Library of America. Reviewing the book in the New York Times, David Orr wrote:

Menashe is a curious and meticulous writer -- the poems here are no longer than a page, most have very short lines, they’re either unpunctuated or very carefully and lightly punctuated, and they rely on tricky rhyme and assonance schemes to carry observations that Ricks describes as ‘apophthegms’ and a nonprofessor might call ‘proverbs.’


Menashe fought in World War II and studied at the Sorbonne, and later taught creative writing. ‘For the past six years Samuel had been been a frequent and beloved presence at the LOA offices in New York,’ the Library of America wrote Tuesday, ‘at one point spending several days autographing 1,200 copies of his book for subscribers to the series.’

In a video that appears after the jump, Menashe, known for the brevity of his poems, says: ‘The struggle is against too many words,’ and later, ‘Every word has to count.’ The Library of America posts this recent poem of Menashe’s:

Now There is never an end to loss, or hope I give up the ghost for which I grope Over and over again saying Amen To all that does or does not happen— The eternal event is now, not when

Menache was filmed in his Greenwich Village apartment, where he lived for 50 years, for the WNYC series ‘Know Your Neighbor.’ ‘The more alive you are,’ he says, ‘the more you are aware of death.’

-- Carolyn Kellogg