Seth Abramson

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Seth Abramson
Born October 31, 1976
Concord, Massachusetts
Occupation Poet
Nationality American
Education Master of Fine Arts, Juris Doctor

Seth Abramson (born October 31, 1976) is an American poet, editor, attorney, and freelance journalist.[1][2]


Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. A former public defender and commentator for Air America Radio, Abramson currently writes a blog on contemporary poetry for The Huffington Post and is a regular columnist for Indiewire.[3][4][5] Abramson's Indiewire column focuses on films, television programs, and video games informed by metamodernism.[6][7]

Publishers Weekly notes that Abramson has "picked up a very large following as a blogger and commentator, covering poetry, politics, and higher education, and generating a controversial, U.S. News-style ranking of graduate programs in writing."[8] In recommending Northerners, the poet's second collection of poetry, the magazine called Abramson "serious and ambitious...uncommonly interested in general statements, in hard questions, and harder answers, about how to live." Colorado Review called the collection "alternately expansive and deeply personal...of crystalline beauty and complexity," terming Abramson "a major American voice."[9] Notre Dame Review echoed the sentiment, calling Abramson "a powerful voice."[10] In awarding Abramson the 2008 J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize, Poetry editor Don Share said, of Abramson's "What I Have," that "the poem absorbs certain details but doesn't fasten upon them the way poets are tempted to do; it's not adjectival, it's not descriptive, it's not painting a kind of canvas with scenery on it, and yet those details are really fascinating."[11]

The Best American Experimental Writing Series

In October 2012, Omnidawn announced that it would begin publishing, in 2014, an annual anthology of innovative verse entitled Best American Experimental Writing. Abramson and the poet Jesse Damiani were named Series Co-Editors.[12][13] Shortly thereafter, Cole Swensen was named the first Guest Editor for the series. In April 2014, Wesleyan University Press picked up the series, and announced that Douglas Kearney would be the Guest Editor for Best American Experimental Writing 2015.[14]

The MFA Research Project

Abramson authors The MFA Research Project (MRP), a website that publishes indexes of creative writing Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs based on surveys and hard-data research.[15] Indexes appearing on the MRP include ordered listings of program popularity, funding, selectivity, fellowship placement, job placement, student-faculty ratio, application cost, application response times, application and curriculum requirements, and foundation dates. The MRP also publishes surveys of current MFA applicants, and of various creative writing programs. Writing for The Cambridge Companion to American Poetry Since 1945, Hank Lazer described Abramson's project as "a daring and data-rich endeavor."[16] The Missouri Review observed that Abramson, along with novelist Tom Kealey, "had done a tremendous amount of work to peel back the layers of MFA programs and get applicants to make informed decisions."[17]

Starting in 2009, Poets & Writers adopted data compiled by the MRP on full-residency creative writing MFA programs for its annual MFA issue.[18][19] Poets & Writers later expanded its annual MFA data chart to include information on low-residency MFA programs and creative writing doctorates.[20] In August 2012, Poets & Writers began publishing MRP data in the form of an unranked, alphabetized "MFA Index." The Chronicle of Higher Education has termed the Poets & Writers national assessment methodology "comprehensive" and "the only MFA ranking regime." [21][22]

In September 2011, an open letter signed by professors from undergraduate and graduate creative writing programs was published, calling the then-rankings "specious" and terming their then-methodology "unethical" and "quite misleading."[23] A week later, Poets & Writers responded to the open letter, asserting that it had "adhere[d] to the highest journalistic standards...Our ethical obligation is to be transparent to our readers about the source of the rankings and how they were derived, which we have done consistently and without reservation."[24] Of Abramson, the rankings' primary researcher, the magazine's Editorial Director Mary Gannon said, "[he] has been collecting data about applicants' preferences and about MFA programs for five years, and we stand behind his integrity."[24]


Selected Works





  1. ^ Author website,
  2. ^ Author biography, The Huffington Post.
  3. ^ "Living on LIPP," The Harvard Law Record (September 22, 2005).
  4. ^ "On American Metamodernism," The Huffington Post (February 7, 2014)
  5. ^ "A New Press Play Column: Seth Abramson's 'Metamericana'", Indiewire (January 31, 2014)
  6. ^ "Metamericana: Paolo Sorrentino's The Great Beauty Is Exactly That," Indiewire (February 28, 2014)
  7. ^ "Talks on Metamodernism with Seth Abramson," As It Ought to Be (March 12, 2014)
  8. ^ Review of Northerners, Publishers Weekly (May 2011).
  9. ^ Northerners] (review), Colorado Review
  10. ^ "From Ruin to Rebirth," Notre Dame Review
  11. ^ "You're Always Moving Toward Silence," Poetry (March 2009 Poetry Foundation Podcast).
  12. ^ "Best American Experimental Writing Anthology Announced," The Poetry Foundation (November 12, 2012).
  13. ^ "Announcing Omnidawn's New Annual Anthology, Best American Experimental Writing," Omnidawn (November 7, 2012).
  14. ^ "Best American Experimental Writing: Guidelines for Submitting," Wesleyan University Press (April 17, 2014).
  15. ^ The MFA Research Project
  16. ^ "American Poetry and Its Institutions," The Cambridge Companion to American Poetry Since 1945 (February 8, 2013)
  17. ^ "The MFA Degree: A Bad Decision?", The Missouri Review (August 29, 2011)
  18. ^ "2010 MFA Rankings: The Top 50," Poets & Writers. Archived 9 April 2010 at WebCite
  19. ^ "The Top 50 MFA Programs," Poets & Writers.
  20. ^ "2011 MFA Rankings: The Top Ten Low-Residency Programs," Poets & Writers.
  21. ^ "What Defines a Successful Post-M.F.A. Career?", The Chronicle of Higher Education (November 3, 2011)
  22. ^ "M.F.A. Application-Season Etiquette," The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  23. ^ Stoeffel, Kat (8 September 2011). "Creative Writing Profs Dispute Their Ranking–No, the Entire Notion of Ranking!". The New York Observer. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  24. ^ a b "Poets & Writers Responds to Open Letter". Poets & Writers. 13 September 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2011.