Seth Abramson

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Seth Abramson
Born (1976-10-31) October 31, 1976 (age 41)
Concord, Massachusetts, U.S.
Occupation Poet, editor, attorney, freelance journalist, professor
Education Dartmouth College (BA)
Harvard University (JD)
University of Iowa (MFA)
University of Wisconsin, Madison (MA, PhD)
Literary movement Metamodernism

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

Early life and education[edit]

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College (1998), Harvard Law School (2001), the Iowa Writers' Workshop (2009), and the doctoral program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison (2010; 2016).[1]


Abramson is an assistant professor of Communication Arts and Sciences at University of New Hampshire and affiliate faculty at the New Hampshire Institute of Art.[3] His teaching areas include digital journalism, post-internet cultural theory, post-internet writing, and legal advocacy.[3] Prior to entering academia, Abramson was a trial attorney for the New Hampshire Public Defender. While still an attorney and member of the New Hampshire Bar Association, he no longer practices.[4][5]

Abramson has been a columnist for Indiewire, The Huffington Post, and Poets & Writers on subjects ranging from politics to higher education and 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]

Creative writing[edit]

Abramson has published a number of books and anthologies. Publishers Weekly describes Abramson as "serious and ambitious...uncommonly interested in general statements, in hard questions, and harder answers, about how to live."[9]

Colorado Review called Northerners, Abramson's second collection of poetry, "alternately expansive and deeply personal...of crystalline beauty and complexity," terming Abramson "a major American voice."[10] Notre Dame Review echoed the sentiment, calling Abramson "a powerful voice."[11]

Abramson won the 2008 J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize from Poetry. Editor Don Share said of Abramson's "What I Have," "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."[12]

Best American Experimental Writing[edit]

Abramson, with the poet Jesse Damiani, has been series co-editor of the annual anthology of innovative verse, Best American Experimental Writing, since its inception with Omnidawn in 2012.[13][14] The series was picked up by Wesleyan University Press in 2014.[15] Guest editors for the series have included Cole Swensen (2014), Douglas Kearney (2015), Charles Bernstein and Tracie Morris (2016), Myung Mi Kim (2018), and Carmen Maria Machado and Joyelle McSweeney (2019).[16]

In 2018, The Rumpus called the anthology "meaty, daring, and beautiful."[17] Nicole Rudick, managing editor of The Paris Review, has called the series "just my kind of rabbit hole."[18]

Trump-Russia investigation[edit]

After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Abramson received widespread attention for his tweets alleging collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. By synthesizing reporting from major news outlets, Abramson has documented repeated contacts between multiple members of the Trump campaign and the political network surrounding Russian President Vladimir Putin.[19] Based on the timing, publicly known content, and personnel involved in those meetings, Abramson suggests that, through intermediaries, Trump and Putin came to an understanding in 2013 that Trump would run for president and push for an end to U.S. sanctions against Russia, and that Putin would in return greenlight a multibillion dollar Trump Tower Moscow deal and other potential Trump ventures in Russia while using Russian capabilities to aid the Trump campaign.[20]

Writers at several media publications – including The New Republic,[21] The Atlantic,[22] and Deadspin[23] – have described Abramson as a conspiracy theorist. While Ben Mathis-Lilley of Slate argues that Abramson is "not making things up, per se; he's just recycling information you could find on any news site and adding sinister what-if hypotheticals to create conclusions that he refers to, quite seriously, as 'investigatory analyses.'"[24] The Chronicle of Higher Education also contests the moniker, noting that Abramson "feuds with anti-Trump conspiracy theorists whom he sees linking to dubious sources and making claims without evidence."[25]

Meanwhile, Virginia Heffernan writes in Politico that Abramson's "theory-testing" is "urgently important."[26] Der Spiegel calls Abramson "a quintessential American figure: an underdog who became an involuntary hero."[27] The New York Observer writes that "events like Trump's 2013 trip to Russia for Miss Universe were covered extensively on Abramson's feed prior to the mainstream media catching on, a fact that has given him a reputation for being early to connect events within the broader Russia story."[28]

According to Avi Selk of The Washington Post, Abramson "has become virally popular by reframing a complex tangle of public reporting on the Russia scandal into a story so simple it can be laid out in daily tweets."[20] But Selk notes that facts tend to be "sprinkled into [Abramson's] threads with more fantastic sounding claims," and "Abramson's tweets link copiously to sources, but they range in quality from investigative news articles to off-the-wall Facebook posts and tweets from Tom Arnold."[20] Yet despite Selk's criticism of Abramson's tweets about Tom Arnold, on June 21, 2018 the comedian was shown to have prominence in the Trump-Russia investigation after all.[29]

The MFA Research Project[edit]

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.[30] 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."[31] 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."[32]

Data from the MRP has been regularly published by Poets & Writers since 2009. The Chronicle of Higher Education has termed the Poets & Writers national assessment methodology "comprehensive" and "the only MFA ranking regime."[33][34] The data is not without its critics. In September 2011, a critical open letter signed by professors from undergraduate and graduate creative writing programs was published.[35] In their response, Poets & Writers asserted that it adhered to the highest journalistic standards.[36] The magazine's Editorial Director Mary Gannon said of Abramson, the rankings' primary researcher, that he "has been collecting data about applicants' preferences and about MFA programs for five years, and we stand behind his integrity."[36]


In May 2014, Abramson was criticised for his Huffington Post piece "Last Words for Elliot Rodger", a "remix" of words taken from the final YouTube video of the perpetrator of the Isla Vista killings, which Abramson published less than two days after they took place.[37] Both the reuse of Rodger's words and the timing of the poem caused offense.[38] Although Abramson called the work "a vehicle for amity and compassion", Omnidawn, Abramson's publisher at the time, issued a statement saying that it was "dismayed, disheartened, distressed", adding that "his actions in this matter are not in alignment with our principles."[39][40]


Selected works[edit]




  1. ^ a b Plenda, Melanie (2015-03-24). "Acclaimed Author and Poet Seth Abramson joins UNH Manchester English Program". University of New Hampshire at Manchester. Archived from the original on 2018-05-25. 
  2. ^ Seth Abramson (2017-02-08). "Listen up, progressives: We need to be smart in the digital age". The Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on 2018-05-25. 
  3. ^ a b New Hampshire Institute of Art (2018-06-05). "Seth Abramson Joins NHIA MFA Faculty". Retrieved 2018-06-23. 
  4. ^ "Seth Abramson". UNH at Manchester. Retrieved 22 June 2018. 
  5. ^ "Seth Abramson - HuffPost". Retrieved 22 June 2018. 
  6. ^ "On American Metamodernism," The Huffington Post (February 7, 2014). [1]
  7. ^ "A New Press Play Column: Seth Abramson's 'Metamericana'", Indiewire (January 31, 2014). [2]
  8. ^ Review of Northerners, Publishers Weekly (May 2011). [3]
  9. ^ Northerners, Publishers Weekly (Review). [4]
  10. ^ Northerners (review), Colorado Review. [5]
  11. ^ "From Ruin to Rebirth," Notre Dame Review. [6]
  12. ^ "You're Always Moving Toward Silence," Poetry (March 2009 Poetry Foundation Podcast). [7]
  13. ^ "Best American Experimental Writing Anthology Announced," The Poetry Foundation (November 12, 2012). [8]
  14. ^ "Announcing Omnidawn's New Annual Anthology, Best American Experimental Writing," Omnidawn (November 7, 2012). "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-02-21. Retrieved 2012-11-21. 
  15. ^ "Best American Experimental Writing: Guidelines for Submitting," Wesleyan University Press (April 17, 2014). [9]
  16. ^ "Best American Experimental Writing," Wesleyan University Press (November 20, 2017). [10]
  17. ^ "Logic and Lack of Logic: Best American Experimental Writing 2016," The Rumpus (February 23, 2018). [11]
  18. ^ "Staff Picks: Nicole Rudick," The Paris Review (June 17, 2016). [12]
  19. ^ @SethAbramson (13 December 2017). "From Russian payments to Trump advisors to failing to register as foreign agents working for Putin allies—from perjury to illegal solicitation of campaign donations from the Kremlin—here's a non-exhaustive summary of known Trump-Russia ties" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  20. ^ a b c Selk, Avi (December 6, 2017). "People can't stop reading a professor's theory of a Trump-Russia conspiracy — true or not". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 25, 2018. 
  21. ^ Dickey, Colin (8 June 2017). "The New Paranoia". The New Republic. Retrieved 2017-07-03. 
  22. ^ McKay Coppins (2017-07-02). "How the Left Lost Its Mind". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2018-05-25. 
  23. ^ Blest, Paul (2017-04-04). "Trump Conspiracy Tweetstorms Are The Infowars Of The Left". Deadspin. Retrieved 2018-05-25. 
  24. ^ Ben Mathis-Lilley (2017-12-05). "Democrats: Please, Please Stop Sharing Seth Abramson's Very Bad Tweets". Slate. Archived from the original on 2018-05-25. 
  25. ^ Kolowich, Steve (2017-05-15). "What Is Seth Abramson Trying to Tell Us?". The Chronicle of Higher Education. ISSN 0009-5982. Retrieved 2017-07-03. 
  26. ^ Virginia Heffernan (September–October 2017). "The Rise of the Twitter Thread". Politico. Retrieved 2018-05-25. 
  27. ^ Christoph Scheuermann (June 4, 2018). "Army of Investigators Has Trump in Its Sights". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 2018-06-22. 
  28. ^ Mike Albanese (June 21, 2018). "Seth Abramson Is Combating Trump and the Media on Twitter". New York Observer. Retrieved 2018-06-22. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Protected Blog › Log in". Retrieved 22 June 2018. 
  31. ^ "American Poetry and Its Institutions," The Cambridge Companion to American Poetry Since 1945 (February 8, 2013) [13]
  32. ^ "The MFA Degree: A Bad Decision?", The Missouri Review (August 29, 2011). [14] Archived 2014-04-19 at the Wayback Machine.
  33. ^ "What Defines a Successful Post-M.F.A. Career?", The Chronicle of Higher Education (November 3, 2011). [15]
  34. ^ "M.F.A. Application-Season Etiquette," The Chronicle of Higher Education. [16]
  35. ^ "Creative Writing Profs Dispute Their Ranking. No, the Entire Notion of Ranking!", The New York Observer, Kat Stoeffel (September 8, 2011). [17]
  36. ^ a b "Poets & Writers Responds to Open Letter". Poets & Writers. 13 September 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  37. ^ "Abramson Publisher "Distressed" by His Elliot Rodger "Remix"". Coldfront. 29 May 2014. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  38. ^ Kempf, Christopher (10 June 2014). "The Poetics of Tragedy". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  39. ^ "Rap Genius and Bad Poetry: It's Always Too Soon to Grab Personal Attention After a Tragedy". Flavorwire. 27 May 2014. Retrieved 14 January 2016. 
  40. ^ "Omnidawn Breaks the Sound Barrier for BAX". Poetry Foundation. 30 May 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-10-16. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 

External links[edit]