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About this poet

Born on September 22, 1928, Irving Feldman was raised in Brooklyn, New York. He was educated at the City College of New York (now City College of the City University of New York) and at Columbia University.

After receiving his master's degree from Columbia in 1953, Feldman traveled first to Puerto Rico, where he taught at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, and then to France, where he taught at the Université de Lyon. In 1958, he returned to the United States to accept a position at Kenyon College, moving on in 1964 to the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he was Distinguished Professor of English until his retirement in 2004.

Feldman's collections of poetry include Collected Poems, 1954-2004 (Schocken, 2004);Beautiful False Things: Poems (Grove Press, 2000); All of Us Here (1986), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Leaping Clear (1976) and The Pripet Marshes (1965), both finalists for the National Book Award; and Works and Days (1961). The Life and Letters (1994) was a finalist for the Poets' Prize.

Feldman is the recipient of a National Institute of Arts and Letters award as well as fellowships from The Academy of American Poets, The Guggenheim Foundation, The Ingram Merrill Foundation, and The MacArthur Foundation. He lives in Buffalo, New York.

Episode

Irving Feldman, 1928
Their quarrel sent them reeling from the house. 
Anything, just get on the road and get away. 
Driven out, they drove. . . miles into countryside, 
confined and bickering, then cold, polite; 
she read a book, or looked out at hillside pastures; 
once, faraway life came close, and they stopped 
in mist for muddy, slow cows at a crossing, 
then, tilted, shuddering, a tractor came across; 
coldly silent other hours of trees after trees 
interspersed with straggling villages--then hot; 
her voice pulsing, tempestuous, against the dash, 
buffeted, blew up; the slammed her hand down, hard.
"You let it happen--you know you did. 
And you make me the bad one--all the time! 
I won't stand for it another second." And then, 
irrationally, "Look at me, I'm talking to you!" 
What half-faced her was mulish, scolded sullenness
--who gripped the wheel and to scare her drove faster, 
scaring himself; he felt out of control, dangerous. 
Downhill, the road darkened, dropped out of sight. 
At the bottom, racing toward them, three lights, 
and trees. . . . Remember this, remember this, 
she thought, the last thing I will ever see. 
Diner, tavern, café, whatever it was.
The car spun suddenly into the parking lot.
She grabbed at the key, threw it out. Shaken, they sat
--while their momentum went on raging down the road. 
They knew they might have been killed--by each other, 
had someone been up to just one more dare.

From Beautiful False Things: Poems by Irving Feldman, published by Grove Press. Copyright © 2000 by Irving Feldman. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Irving Feldman

Irving Feldman

Born on September 22, 1928, Irving Feldman was raised in Brooklyn, New York