Praise for Metamericana
Abramson's secret seems to be that a good poem places pressure on ideas in an interesting way—that a good idea places pressure on old ideas in an interesting way. Philosophy places pressure on technology and technology places pressure on philosophy. All of this interacts in a swirling and kaleidoscopic manner....Abramson shows you the guts of thought....[as] everything in Metamericana is both conceptual and confessional.
— Benjamin Champagne, NewPages
Praise for Thievery
Thievery charges forward with purpose and fear, a journey through a wild west as bleak as Cormac McCarthy's and riddled with reminders of the modern world the narrator is trying to escape....with
all the hostility and immediacy of Bukowski, Abramson juxtaposes these two realms, allowing his narrator to face his reality. A powerful current of absurdism runs through these poems, a sense that it's the lies and fantasies we create for ourselves that give life meaning...both the narrator's present surroundings and those inside his head are all constructions of some form or another, and in any of them he is still faced with the terror and the tenderness of being human. Abramson lays bear the validity of unreality...
— Robert Torres, American Microreviews and Interviews
Abramson's tone and syntax are deceptively simple, given the vast reach of his speculations—
which, among other things, probe the human mind in the surreal light of its ordinary domestic circumstances. There's an ominous hallucinatory aspect to many of these poems, wherein time
and place zoom off the page.
— Joseph Millar (from Judge's Citation, 2014 Edna Meudt Poetry Prize)
Abramson performs a sleight of hand in his poems, changing their trajectory at a moment's notice. There is an unraveling that these poems want to bring into the light for closer examination. Thievery is subtle in its exploration of change.
— Serena Agusto-Cox, The Washington Examiner
Seth Abramson is a superb modern poet. The poems of Thievery ennoble the common man, elevating what he has to say and how he says it to the level of earnest discourse. Ultimately, it all boils down to what it means to be human, how to fill the great gap of time between birth and death, and how to meet the causal and accidental challenges encountered along the way. Abramson has a keen ear for the music in speech. The reader is carried along on a wave of energy that helps him follow the larger meaning of a monologue or dialogue as it folds over and over itself. On many occasions, while reading individual poems in this book (and immediately rereading them), I recognized myself on very specific occasions in my life. Abramson's craft accomplishes precisely exactly what poetry is supposed to do when it is at its best: reveal the reader to himself as if for the first time.
— John-Michael Albert, The Poetry Society of New Hampshire
It's delightful on the level of the image, but oddly perplexing when it comes to what's actually taking place in the poem[s]. Typically, this would really bother me...but it doesn't here because the images excite my imagination and keep me guessing.
— Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum, PoemoftheWeek.org
Here is a book that is truly, quietly, deeply subtle. It appears to operate along the lines of 'here is how one thing follows another'; it appears to rely on anticipated cause and effect to spring us forth from one fraction of a split second's thought to the next. There are many 'and then' actions in this book. What follows comes as a surprise, sometimes even when it shouldn't. For instance, at one poem's conclusion it says: 'An archer shoots. That's what an archer does.' And this is astonishing. And then it is almost heartbreaking and then one must do a double-take and then there is poetry.
— Dara Wier (Judge, 2012 Akron Poetry Prize)
In Thievery, his third and best book so far, Abramson implicitly locates the source of the disaffection by which we are guided, not in the disasters of the twentieth century, which reconfirmed it, but in an unnameable and centuries-gone past. And by doing so he acknowledges that disaffection as the presence most familiar to us. Indeed, its presence makes us familiar to each other: 'To be lost is to be connected/ interminably.' These are grim and yet also startled poems, at home in a broken world and yet again and again and ever surprised by its brokenness, radiant with the sense that even the world in which one feels at home must be changed for the better.
— Shane McCrae
Each section of [the long poem of Thievery], 'Chronophrenia,' flows with a different rhythm, realized by Abramson's deft use of repetition. I'm convinced 'Chronophrenia' is a poem about America, a staging of collective rumination—'I have left more behind / than is ahead'—apropos to our current economic and cultural anxieties. Even more, 'Chronophrenia' identifies one of the constant themes in our literature, the persistence of violence, and whether such violence can ever be properly answered: 'Can I admit this thing, / can I clothe myself / in something like it, is it time now. / Does the time come. Does it ever.'
— Ryan Winet, The Offending Adam
A few rare holdouts to the contrary, American culture is loud, unsubtle, insensitive, needy, cheaply convenient, exhausting, unreflective, and, above all, distracted. What has been happening behind the scenes during all the years we haven't been paying attention? What world have we given ourselves and what have we given up in that shallow exchange? Such observations are deeply implied by the poems in Seth Abramson's Thievery. At the bottom of this book is the sense that we've been ripped off and don't even know it yet. That we have allowed it has left us stunted, morally and spiritually, with no greater sense of wonder than a Styrofoam cup. Abramson is not preaching, however: he is telling the melancholy, lonely truth.
— Maurice Manning
Praise for Northerners
This book will get a lot of well-deserved attention. Serious and ambitious, full of torqued proverbs, Northerners shows a poet uncommonly interested in hard questions, and harder answers, about how to live.
— Publishers Weekly
These poems, alternately expansive and deeply personal, are of crystalline beauty and complexity. One cannot help but be moved by the primacy, the fundamental authenticity, of Abramson's language and subjects. His ability to identify and connote, rather than denote, the elemental aspects and desires of the human psyche is among his many strengths as a poet, and it bodes well for his continued rise as a major American voice.
— Colorado Review
A powerful voice...Northerners is a new work built on, but not indebted to, great poetic ancestry.
— Notre Dame Review
Northerners scrutinizes precepts and principles that form the building blocks of civilization. It is extraordinary in its insight and is highly recommended.
— Midwest Book Review
Northerners has so much heart, and the language is goddamn exquisite. I love these poems so much because they're conflicted, yet bold, yet beautiful, yet interested in everything and in the knowing of everything, endlessly groping for the invisible perimeter that divides the self from others. Not all books
of poetry leave you with an overwhelming confidence that your life is better for having read it. This book makes me feel like I can do better and be better. It makes me feel like everything is important—though everything might hurt a bit—and that everything is a marvel and should be treated as such. COULDN'T. POSSIBLY. RECOMMEND. MORE.
— Wendy Xu, Read This Awesome Book
Northerners cements Abramson's place in the highest echelon of American poetry's up-and-comers. Seth Abramson-the-poet is an absolute force. The landscape of these poems is devastatingly sparse and richly compelling, yet what makes this book so redemptive is the poet's tenderness amidst coarse realities. These are poems of technical purity and profound grace.
— Bradley Harrison, Bat City Review
A superb follow up to his previous book; Abramson displays a command of simple language that continues to grow beyond mastery. Here is the panoply of humanity, observed and reported by a compassionate and cool-eyed member of the parade. One of my two favorite books of poetry from 2011.
— John-Michael Albert, The New Hampshire Center for the Book
No young poet today writes with as much empathy for the fallen, for the captive classes, for the workers high and low. America has been awaiting the arrival of a poet like Seth Abramson for a generation.
— Barn Owl Review
Abramson's singularly adept winding of language and syntax comes together to create a striking work that unabashedly tackles nebulous concepts with an intricate and exhaustive logic. Without a doubt, Northerners is a work of sterling craft and intelligence.
— iO: A Journal of New American Poetry
Abramson has given us fifty poems that reveal a keen set of observations about compassion, consciousness, and justice.
— Contrary Magazine
Abramson's intricate, absorbing, and distinctive poems wrestle not just with language—much poetry does that—but with the objects of language: the events, landscapes, and weather that surround us and determine our lives. Dream-like, yet ever-alert, this work is memorable and illuminating.
— Don Share, Poetry
To reckon the currents of muscular energy in Abramson's Northerners is to recognize that poetry may be located in language's particulars and in the local but it also penetrates every thought, every atom of one's daily life.
— Peter Gizzi, The Nation
Abramson's genius lies in the ability to condense the power of our culture's founding concepts into their particulars, and then show how those particulars are every bit as alive today, and as relevant. And he shows it more through language's muscle than through its meaning.
— Cole Swensen, American Hybrid (ed.)
Praise for the Huffington Post Poetry Review Series
Excellent and energetic...
— The Kenyon Review
Review magic....Abramson covers a lot of ground...
— The Poetry Foundation
What a relief to read smart writing about creative writing in the academy, and about aesthetic differences in contemporary American poetry—writing that enjoys diversity and refuses cranky,
— Mark Doty
Praise for The Suburban Ecstasies
Ambitious and demanding—an achievement.
— Notre Dame Review
A gorgeous paean to language at its most opulent, its most generous.
— John-Michael Albert, The Poetry Society of New Hampshire
Experiencing Abramson for the first time is a mixture of bewilderment, assault and awe. Each poem is a potent distillation of an experience. Each word seems essential and precious. Abramson is masterful enough to avoid seeming shallow or tedious; the superimposition of the mythical and the exotic onto the practical creates mystery and magic.
— The Daily Cardinal (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Filled with story-telling, but also extremely difficult in a hard flame-like gem of a way: full of myth and Menippean satire. I like this learned poetry, even when I don't understand it. Abramson's voice, both legal and illegal, furthers dynamic motion: The Suburban Ecstasies is not anti-intellectual, and because of this alone, it is in a special idiolect.
— David Shapiro
Seth Abramson's first book is enough to make Stephen Dedalus dizzy, being somehow lyric, epic, and dramatic all at the same time. He has a fine ear and a keen eye. He has mastered a prosody that both drives his narrative—I read the book at a single setting because I couldn't stop reading once I had started—and that also rings the changes on repeating themes or motifs. It is very difficult to write a book-length poem, but Abramson makes it seem easy. He has a compelling story to tell, both fantastical and down-to-earth. I'd guess it's equal parts autobiography and invention. He calls it a monomyth, and it's that, too. First books aren't meant to have this kind of authority.
— John Matthias
Working in the vivid, revivifying borderlands of such American adventures as Paul Metcalf's Genoa and Ed Dorn's Gunslinger, The Suburban Ecstasies propounds a syllabic heroism, one in which even the gentlest, most lyric proposals set forth towards ecstasy. These pages glow with immediate mastery.
— Donald Revell
Praise for Indiewire Contemporary TV/Film Reviews
— Matt Bean, Entertainment Weekly
Great comics journalism.
— Oliver Sava, The A.V. Club
If you're new to Wilfred, read this....as good an analysis of the show as I've ever read. Great work.
— David Zuckerman, Producer, Wilfred
The definitive piece on Wilfred and the "Who knows what's real?" mode of television.
— Matthew Zoller Seitz, Editor-in-Chief, RogerEbert.com
— Jason Gann, Actor, Wilfred
Incredible Game of Thrones essay. Spot on regarding the fantasy genre and its relation to our world.
— Rider Strong, Actor, Boy Meets World
Aggressively headlined but full of perspective.
— The Harvard Book Store (Cambridge, MA)
Praise for The MFA Research Project
A daring and data-rich endeavor.
— Hank Lazer, The Cambridge Companion to American Poetry Since 1945
Abramson has done a tremendous amount of work to peel back the layers of MFA programs and get applicants to make informed decisions...
— The Missouri Review
The only current comprehensive [assessment] of M.F.A. programs.
— The Chronicle of Higher Education
No one has more statistical and anecdotal knowledge of MFA programs than Seth Abramson. His
site is indispensable. He even maintains a database of notification dates that shows when a school
has started accepting or rejecting its applicants. It's engrossing, it's masochistic, it's wonderful.
— Michael Fauver, The Iowa Review
[Abramson] has poured much time and energy into getting data to prospective MFA students, and his efforts have been valiant.
— Julianna Baggott, Florida State University
A helpful site with tons of info...
— Erika Meitner, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)
A good place to start.
— Jon Simmons, Ploughshares
Scholars of Creative Writing almost do not exist, and by now, they should exist. Dissertations in the field of Creative Writing should be scholarly and based in literature or demographics or statistics or sociology or anthropology or history of ideas or aesthetics or philosophy. Scholarly publications about Creative Writing should have been established. Seth Abramson has supplied valuable research in the field...
— Ann Bogle, Drunken Boat
Seth Abramson writes a lot about Creative Writing MFA programs and, by extension, the Ph.D. in Creative Writing. It's hip to criticize these programs, but Seth does a hell of a job defending them.
— Brian Spears, The Rumpus
He is very often right...the public pressure he put on MFA programs to be transparent is central to the wealth of information we have now.
— Adam Atkinson, Oh No