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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Samuel Menashe (1925–2011)

In this well-known photograph by Martin Duffy,
Samuel writes one of his poems on the beach:
"Pity us / by the sea / on the sands / so briefly"
The staff and trustees of The Library of America are deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Samuel Menashe, who died yesterday evening, peacefully, in his sleep.

A veteran of the 87th Infantry Division in World War II who went on to study at the Sorbonne before returning to his native New York, Samuel was the first recipient of the Neglected Masters Award from the Poetry Foundation, bestowed in 2004. The following year The Library of America published his New and Selected Poems in the American Poets Project series.

For the past six years Samuel had been been a frequent and beloved presence at the LOA offices in New York—at one point spending several days autographing 1,200 copies of his book for subscribers to the series. Last year, in a blog post written on the occasion of his 85th birthday, we noted just a few of the many recent notices and interviews that followed nearly five decades of near-neglect by American critics and publishers. (His poetry was greeted with far more enthusiasm in England, where he published his first book in 1961, and in Ireland.)

In 2008, after the first printing of 7,000 copies of New and Selected Poems had sold out, we asked Samuel to add a few more recent poems to the second printing. Among the nine new poems he added at the end of the book was the following:
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

1 comment:

  1. Lovely remembrance of a poet who often astonished us with the meaning he found in so few lines.

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