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About this poet

Michael Benedikt was born in 1935 in New York City. He received his BA from New York University and earned a master's degree in English and comparative literature from Columbia University. He was an editorial assistant for Horizon Press from 1959 to 1962, and in 1963-64 served as managing editor for the literary magazine Locus Solus.

Prior to publishing his first collection of poetry, Benedikt co-edited three anthologies of 20th-Century Poetic Theatre from abroad: Modern French Theatre: The Avant-Garde, Dada, & Surrealism (Dutton, 1964); Post-War German Theatre (Dutton, 1966); and Modern Spanish Theatre (Dutton, 1967). His anthology of twentieth-century American plays, Theatre Experiment (Doubleday), was issued in 1968. He is also the editor of two landmark anthologies of twentieth-century poetry: The Poetry of Surrealism (Little Brown & Co., 1974); and The Prose Poem: An International Anthology (Dell, 1976). A critical Festschrift, Benedikt: A Profile was issued by Grilled Flowers Press in 1978. Benedikt was poetry editor for The Paris Review from 1975 to 1978. His editorial selections are represented in The Paris Review Anthology (1990). Occasionally active as a literary critic and journalist, he was also an associate editor of Art News and Art International. His literary criticism has appeared in Poetry and The American Book Review.

Benedikt's books of poetry include The Badminton at Great Barrington; or, Gustave Mahler & The Chattanooga Choo-Choo (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980), Night Cries (Wesleyan University Press, 1976), Mole Notes (Wesleyan University Press, 1971), Sky (Wesleyan University Press, 1970), and The Body (Wesleyan University Press 1968). His poems have also appeared in Agni, Iowa Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The New Republic, The Paris Review, and Partisan Review. His honors include a New York State Council for the Arts Grant, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, and an NEA Fellowship. He has taught at Bennington College, Sarah Lawrence College, Vassar College, Hampshire Colleges, and Boston University. Michael Benedikt died on February 9, 2007.

To Persuade a LadyCarpe Diem

Michael Benedikt
True, I have always been happy that all the things that are inside 
    the body are inside the body, and that all things outside 
    the body, are out

I'm glad to find my lungs on the inside of my chest, for example; 
    if they were outside, they'd keep getting in the way, 
    those two great incipient angel wings; besides, 
    it would be messy

I mean, how would it be if your reached out to shake someone's hand
    and there, in the palm, were a kidney and a liver complete with 
    spleen?

Can you imagine standing at 5 PM in a crowded subway car full of 
    empty stomachs?

What if a nice, nearsighted old lady were knitting socks and suddenly 
    her veins fell out? How would she avoid creating a substance 
    full of strangeness and pain? To the barefoot country boy 
    sitting on the edge of the bed in the morning and opening 
    Aunt Minnie's gift box, the sight of those socks would be 
    what he'd call "a real eye-opener!"

And what if our voices touched? If our mouths went out, instead of in?

If you were inside of me; or, at least, if I were inside of you?

From Sky, published by Wesleyan University Press, 1970. Copyright © 1970 by Michael Benedikt. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of the author.

From Sky, published by Wesleyan University Press, 1970. Copyright © 1970 by Michael Benedikt. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Michael Benedikt

Michael Benedikt

Poet, editor, literary critic, and teacher Michael Benedikt was born in 1935 in New York City.

by this poet

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The European Shoe is covered with grass and reed, bound up and wound
    around so that it may slip easily over the wearer's head.

In case you are an aircraft pilot, you must take care that the 
    European Shoe does not creep off your foot, and begin to 
    make its way carefully across the fusilage
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This is what it was: Sometime in the recent but until now unrecorded past, it was decided by certain ingenious and commercially forward-looking cattle-ranchers in a certain large, modern Western nation which prides itself on being nutritionally forward-looking, that since people are increasingly nutrition-

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The last time they did any harm to anyone was probably thousands 
    of years ago;--therefore we catch them and cut them up into coats,
Their frolicsomeness, too, sliced up by contemptuous human analysis;
Yes, through the binoculars of the human in the dinghy, like a text
    beneath some mad scientist's