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Eli Siegel was the poet and critic who founded the philosophy Aesthetic Realism in 1941. He wrote the award-winning poem, "Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana", two highly acclaimed volumes of poetry, a critical consideration of Henry James's The Turn of the Screw titled James and the Children, and Self and World: An Explanation of Aesthetic Realism.


Born in Latvia, Siegel's family came to the United States when he was an infant. He grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, where he graduated from the Baltimore City College high school, and lived most of his life in New York City.

In 1925, his "Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana" was selected from four thousand anonymously submitted poems as the winner of The Nation's esteemed poetry prize. The magazine's editors described it as "the most passionate and interesting poem which came in—a poem recording through magnificent rhythms a profound and important and beautiful vision of the earth on which afternoons and men have always existed." The poem begins:

Quiet and green was the grass of the field,
The sky was whole in brightness,
And O, a bird was flying, high, there in the sky,
So gently, so carelessly and fairly.

"Hot Afternoons" was controversial; the author's innovative technique in this long, free-verse poem tended to polarize commentators, with much of the criticism taking the form of parody. "In Hot Afternoons," Siegel later explained, "I tried to take many things that..
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