Samuel Menashe

1925–2011
Samuel Menashe

Samuel Menashe earned acclaim as the creator of numerous compact and precise poems. His first American volume, No Jerusalem But This, was praised by Stephen Spender for "language intense and clear as diamonds." Spender declared that Menashe "can compress an attitude to life that has an immense history into three lines."

To Open, Menashe's 1974 collection, impressed Christian Science Monitor critic Victor Howes with its concentrated works. "The art of Samuel Menashe is a jeweler's art," Howes claimed. He noted that Menashe's "inner rhymes, his assonances, his occasional plays upon words make even the simplest-seeming statement a construct to read again with heightened attention."

Although Menashe published only a few volumes, he was nonetheless prized by critics such as Donald Davie and Hugh Kenner as a unique and worthwhile poet. In National Review Kenner praised Menashe's “taut energies,” and in an Inquiry review of Davie's The Poet in the Imaginary Museum, Kenner focused almost entirely on Davie's elucidation of Menashe's art. In “The Poetry of Samuel Menashe,” Davie linked Menashe to William Blake and wrote, “If we continue to ignore Menashe, or allow him only the abstracted nod that we give to an unclassifiable oddity, we are in effect saying that he doesn't deserve to profit by the promise that Blake made.”

Menashe was the winner of the first Neglected Masters Award, given by the Poetry Foundation. His New and Selected Poems (2005) was published in conjunction with that honor by the Library of America, edited by Christopher Ricks. Menashe lived in New York City for many decades until his death in 2011.

What People are Saying

"I do Poetry Out Loud because the everyday me is very shy and easily stumbles over words, mangling meaning and botching simple conversations. Yet, when I recite poetry it is an opportunity for me to become someone else––an embodiment of the poem. Slowly, step by step, I think Poetry Out Loud is helping me to become a braver, more confident person, even if I still tremble when I get on stage."
Rose Horowitz
2016 ME POL Champion