August Kleinzahler

(1949 / New Jersey / United States)

Biography of August Kleinzahler

August Kleinzahler poet

August Kleinzahler (born December 10, 1949 in Jersey City, New Jersey) is an American poet.
Until he was 11, he went to school in Fort Lee, New Jersey, where he grew up. He then commuted to the Horace Mann School in the Bronx, graduating in 1967. He wrote poetry from this time, inspired by Keats and Kenneth Rexroth translations, among other works. He started college at the University of Wisconsin–Madison but dropped out and after taking a year out of school, he ended up, 1971, at the University of Victoria on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Drawn to the New York poets, including Frank O’Hara, Kleinzahler then discovered the work of Basil Bunting, who had a major influence on Kleinzahler's search for his own voice in poetry. He described Bunting's 1966 long poem Briggflatts (which its author described as "an autobiography, but not a statement of fact") as "everything I wanted in poetry.” Bunting taught a creative writing course at Victoria: "He began with some poems by Hardy and Hopkins, The Wreck of the Deutschland, and went up to Yeats and Pound, then David Jones, Williams, the poets who were important to Bunting, Hugh MacDiarmid, Lorine Niedecker, and H.D. All he did was smoke unfiltered Player’s and read to us". The Anglo-American poet Thom Gunn (1929–2004) was also a major influence: "the honest treatment of the poetic material at hand, not slipping into rhetorical or poetic postures, inflating subject matter or dodging difficulty," Kleinzahler explained in an interview in The Paris Review in the fall of 2007. Gunn would become a close friend. William Carlos Williams was also an important source of inspiration.

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Meat

How much meat moves
Into the city each night
The decks of its bridges tremble
In the liquefaction of sodium light
And the moon a chemical orange

Semitrailers strain their axles
Shivering as they take the long curve
Over warehouses and lofts

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