Frederick Seidel Poems

Frederick Seidel (b. 1936) debuted in letters in 1962 with his provocatively entitled collection Final Solutions. That book was selected for a prize by a committee of distinguished judges, only for the award to be withdrawn by the awarding institution and for publication to be denied due to concerns over the expression of allegedly intolerant sentiments. This caused, in turn, the committee’s resignation and a minor scandal. A certain air of notoriety has been clinging to Seidel ever since.

Epithets like “disturbing,” “scary,” and even “ghoulish” are not frequently employed to describe his poetry, and he is something of an outlier in the literary scene. At the same time, he has also enjoyed the support of influential figures over the years, and with close to twenty collections to his name, he may well be described as a force to be reckoned with.

Depending on who answers, Frederick Seidel is either one of the best poets currently active, or the author of sinister and unwholesome work.

While maybe not above reproach, Frederick Seidel’s perspective on the world can be described as unflinching and original.


by Frederick Seidel

‘1968’ describes the aftermath of a raucous Hollywood party. Seidel works into this context a broader critique of sociopolitical realities.

'1968' is an early poem and one in which, arguably, Seidel's voice has not yet fully crystallized. One finds in it, for example, a rather innocuous free verse rather than the plodding, bungling rimes that ironically embellish more recent work. In terms of its themes, however, the poem gives a fine sense of what would follow and is by no means an unaccomplished poem in itself.

A football spirals through the oyster glow

Of dawn dope and fog in L.A.’s

Bel Air, punted perfectly. The foot

That punted it is absolutely stoned.

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