Vijay Seshadri ('88) Wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

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Vijay Seshadri
photo / Sally Gall
New York, NY, April 15, 2014—Columbia University School of the Arts Writing Program graduate Vijay Seshadri (’88) has won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, for his book, 3 Sections.

The prize for poetry is awarded to a distinguished volume of original verse by an American author. 3 Sections, published by Graywolf Press, is a compelling collection of poems that examine human consciousness, from birth to dementia.

The other finalists nominated in the Poetry category were The Sleep of Reason, by Morri Creech, and The Big Smoke, by Adrian Matejka. This year’s judges were Elizabeth Alexander, Thomas E. Donnelley Professor of African American Studies and professor of American Studies and English, Yale University (Chair), senior editor at The New Republic, Adam Kirsch, and Campbell McGrath, Philip and Patricia Frost Professor of Creative Writing, Florida International University, Miami.

In 2012, Tracy K. Smith (’97) won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her book Life on Mars. Last year, Film alumnus Ayad Akhtar (’02) won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play, Disgraced, and Writing alumna Karen Russell (’06) was a finalist for the Fiction Prize.

Vijay Seshadri was born in Bangalore, India, in 1954 and came to America at the age of five. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio, where his father taught chemistry at Ohio State University, and has lived in many parts of the country, including the Pacific Northwest, where he spent five years working in the fishing and logging industries, and New York's Upper West Side, where he was a sometime graduate student in Columbia's PhD program in Middle Eastern Languages and Literature. His collections of poems include James Laughlin Award winner The Long Meadow (Graywolf Press, 2004) and Wild Kingdom (1996). His poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in AGNI, The American Scholar, Antaeus, BOMB, Boulevard, Lumina, the Nation, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Shenandoah, Southwest Review, Threepenny Review, Verse, Western Humanities Review, Yale Review, The Times Book Review, The Philadelphia Enquirer, San Diego Reader and TriQuarterly, and in many anthologies, including Under 35: The New Generation of American Poets, Contours of the Heart, Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times and The Best American Poetry in 1997 and 2003.

Seshadri has received grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, and has been awarded the Paris Review's Bernard F. Conners Long Poem Prize and the MacDowell Colony's Fellowship for Distinguished Poetic Achievement. He holds an AB degree from Oberlin College and an MFA from Columbia University School of the Arts. He currently teaches poetry and nonfiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College, and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.

Pulitzer Prizes will be awarded at a luncheon on the Columbia University Morningside campus in May.
Seshardi on seeing the big picture with poetry
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