Samuel Menashe’s poetry has a mysterious simplicity, a spiritual intensity and a lingering emotional force. For the past 50 years he has practised his art of ‘compression and crystallisation’ (in Derek Mahon’s phrase) in poems that are brief in form but profound in their engagement with ultimate questions. As Stephen Spender wrote, Menashe ‘compresses thought into language intense and clear as diamonds’. This video is an excerpt from LIFE IS IMMENSE: VISITING SAMUEL MENASHE, a film by Pamela Robertson-Pearce. This features a visit to Menashe (with Neil Astley) in the tiny New York apartment where he has lived since the 1950s. Now aged 83, Menashe still knows all his poems by heart, and between engaging digressions on poetry, life and death, he recites numerous examples with engaging humour, warmth and zest. The poems included in this clip are 'Daily Bread', 'Family Silver', 'Night Music (pizzicato)', 'Improvidence' (now suddenly a highly topical poem!) and 'Voyage'. The film is only available on DVD with the Bloodaxe Books UK edition of Samuel Menashe's NEW & SELECTED POEMS (June 2009). SAMUEL MENASHE was born in New York City in 1925, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrant parents. He served in the US infantry during the Second World War, and afterwards studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. He returned to New York in the 1950s where, with frequent sojourns in Britain, Ireland and Europe, he has lived ever since. He was first published in Britain, thanks to Kathleen Raine, in 1961, before he achieved any recognition in America, where he remained a marginal figure over five decades. In 2004 he became the first winner of the Poetry Foundation’s Neglected Masters Award, a prize that both pays tribute to his excellence and makes reparation for the years in which his achievements were overlooked. PAMELA ROBERTSON-PEARCE has been filming poets reading their work for Bloodaxe's archive, website and DVD-books. Her first DVD-book, IN PERSON (edited by Neil Astley), was published by Bloodaxe in 2008, including films of 30 poets with an anthology containing all the poems read on the films.

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