Seth Abramson

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Seth Abramson
Abramson at WUNH
Born (1976-10-31) October 31, 1976 (age 40)
Concord, Massachusetts
Occupation Poet, editor, attorney, freelance journalist, professor
Nationality American
Education Master of Fine Arts, Juris Doctor, Doctor of Philosophy
Literary movement Metamodernism

Seth Abramson (born October 31, 1976) is an American poet, editor, attorney, freelance journalist, and professor.[1][2][3]


Currently an Assistant Professor of English at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester, 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).[3] He writes a blog on contemporary poetry for The Huffington Post and is a regular columnist for Indiewire.[4][5][6] Abramson's Indiewire column focuses on films, television programs, and video games informed by metamodernism.[7][8] 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."[9] Before entering academia, Abramson was an attorney for the New Hampshire Public Defender and a commentator for Air America Radio.

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."[10]

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."[11] Notre Dame Review echoed the sentiment, calling Abramson "a powerful voice."[12]

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."[13]

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.[14][15] The series was picked up by Wesleyan University Press in 2014.[16]

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.[17] 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."[18] 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."[19]

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."[20][21] 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.[22] In their response, Poets & Writers asserted that it adhered to the highest journalistic standards.[23] 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."[23]


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.[24] Both the reuse of Rodger's words and the timing of the poem caused offence.[25] 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."[26][27]


Selected works[edit]




  1. ^ Author website
  2. ^ Author biography, The Huffington Post. [1]
  3. ^ a b "Acclaimed Author and Poet Seth Abramson Joins UNH Manchester English Program", University of New Hampshire (April 16, 2015). [2]
  4. ^ "Living on LIPP," The Harvard Law Record (September 22, 2005)
  5. ^ "On American Metamodernism," The Huffington Post (February 7, 2014). [3]
  6. ^ "A New Press Play Column: Seth Abramson's 'Metamericana'", Indiewire (January 31, 2014). [4]
  7. ^ "Metamericana: Paolo Sorrentino's The Great Beauty Is Exactly That," Indiewire (February 28, 2014). [5]
  8. ^ "Talks on Metamodernism with Seth Abramson," As It Ought to Be (March 12, 2014). [6]
  9. ^ Review of Northerners, Publishers Weekly (May 2011). [7]
  10. ^ Northerners, Publishers Weekly (Review). [8]
  11. ^ Northerners (review), Colorado Review. [9]
  12. ^ "From Ruin to Rebirth," Notre Dame Review. [10]
  13. ^ "You're Always Moving Toward Silence," Poetry (March 2009 Poetry Foundation Podcast). [11]
  14. ^ "Best American Experimental Writing Anthology Announced," The Poetry Foundation (November 12, 2012). [12]
  15. ^ "Announcing Omnidawn's New Annual Anthology, Best American Experimental Writing," Omnidawn (November 7, 2012). [13]
  16. ^ "Best American Experimental Writing: Guidelines for Submitting," Wesleyan University Press (April 17, 2014). [14]
  17. ^ The MFA Research Project
  18. ^ "American Poetry and Its Institutions," The Cambridge Companion to American Poetry Since 1945 (February 8, 2013) [15]
  19. ^ "The MFA Degree: A Bad Decision?", The Missouri Review (August 29, 2011). [16]
  20. ^ "What Defines a Successful Post-M.F.A. Career?", The Chronicle of Higher Education (November 3, 2011). [17]
  21. ^ "M.F.A. Application-Season Etiquette," The Chronicle of Higher Education. [18]
  22. ^ "Creative Writing Profs Dispute Their Ranking. No, the Entire Notion of Ranking!", The New York Observer, Kat Stoeffel (September 8, 2011). [19]
  23. ^ a b "Poets & Writers Responds to Open Letter". Poets & Writers. 13 September 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  24. ^ "Abramson Publisher "Distressed" by His Elliot Rodger "Remix"". Coldfront. 29 May 2014. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  25. ^ Kempf, Christopher (10 June 2014). "The Poetics of Tragedy". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  26. ^ "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. 
  27. ^ "Omnidawn Breaks the Sound Barrier for BAX". Poetry Foundation. 30 May 2014. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 

External links[edit]