Matthew Zapruder

A lot of poets are trying to work out, in a very basic way, “what am I doing when I’m making a poem?” For me, I think it has a lot to do with the potential reader, the potential listener. That’s somebody I really feel the presence of when I’m writing a poem. It was extremely generative to orient myself in that way. It’s pretty simple: talk as if someone’s listening.


william carlos williams prize

May Sarton Prize

Guggenheim fellow




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Zapruder’s poems have a directness and verve that are reminiscent of Frank O’Hara; they’re poems for everyone, everywhere, insisting that everything is subject for poetry, and that all language is poetic language, democratic in its insights and feelings.
— Meghan O'Rourke
Matthew Zapruder has a razor eye for the remnants and revenants of modern culture.
New York Times Book Review

Poet, translator, professor and editor Matthew Zapruder is the author of the poetry collections, Sun Bear (Copper Canyon, 2014), Come On All You Ghosts (Copper Canyon, 2010), The Pajamaist (Copper Canyon, 2006), and American Linden (Tupelo Books, 2002), His most recent book is Why Poetry (Ecco, 2017), an impassioned call for a return to reading poetry, which the New York Times Book Review called “a roaring success.”  Zapruder collaborated with painter Chris Uphues on For You in Full Bloom (Pilot Books, 2009) and cotranslated, with historian Radu Ioanid, Romanian poet Eugen Jebeleanu’s last collection, Secret Weapon: Selected Late Poems (Coffee House Press, 2008). His forthcoming collection, Father’s Day, will be published in September 2019 by Copper Canyon.

Zapruder's poems have been included in the anthologies Best American Poetry (2017, 2013, 2009), Third Rail: The Poetry of Rock and Roll (2007), and Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century (2006), as well as Poets on Teaching: A Sourcebook (2010). His poems, essays and translations have appeared in many publications, including Tin House, Paris ReviewThe New RepublicThe Boston ReviewThe New Yorker, McSweeney's, The Believer, Real Simple, and The Los Angeles Times

With Brian Henry, Zapruder cofounded Verse Press in 1999, which later became Wave Books in 2005. As an editor for Wave Books, Zapruder has acquired and edited many celebrated collections of poetry and prose, including the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner Olio, by Tyehimba Jess. In 2008, he coedited, with Wave Books Editor Joshua Beckman, the political poetry anthology State of the Union: 50 Political Poems. From 2016-7 he held the annually rotating position of Editor of the Poetry Column for the New York Times Magazine.

Zapruder’s poetry has been adapted by some of America’s most exciting young composers. In Fall, 2012, his poetry was adapted and performed at Carnegie Hall by Composer Gabriel Kahane and Brooklyn Rider. In February, 2014, composer Missy Mazzoli, along with Victoire and Glenn Kotche, performed Vespers for a New Dark Age, a piece commissioned by Carnegie Hall for the 2014 Ecstatic Music Festival, and released as a recording on New Amsterdam records in spring, 2015.

In a conversation with SF Gate about Why Poetry and how poems operate  in the reader’s consciousness, Zapruder noted,  “A poem can draw you into an almost lucid dreaming state, a drifty yet attentive consciousness. In the chapter on (John) Ashbery I talk about how when you’re reading a poem, you’re sharing an imaginative experience particular to the consciousness of the person who wrote it. It’s almost like being haunted, in a good way. It trains us in a radical kind of empathy that is maybe what’s missing in our culture more than anything.”

Zapruder’s honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship, the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the May Sarton Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has taught at New York University, the New School, the University of California Riverside - Palm Desert Low Residency MFA Program, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst’s Juniper Summer Writing Institute, and at the University of California at Berkeley as the Holloway Fellow. He earned a BA in Russian literature at Amherst College, an MA in Slavic languages and literature at the University of California, Berkeley, and an MFA in poetry at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Born in Washington, DC, he lives in Oakland, where he is an associate professor in the Saint Mary’s College of California MFA Program in Creative Writing, as well as editor at large for Wave Books. He is also a guitarist in the rock band The Figments.



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