David Lehman, Poet

David Lehman, Series Editor© Jason Stern 2000


David Lehman was born in New York City in 1948. He was educated at Columbia University, spent two years in England as a Kellett Fellow at Cambridge University, and worked as Lionel Trilling's research assistant upon his return to New York. Lehman initiated The Best American Poetry series in 1988. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and an award in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

He is the author of several collections of poems, including Poems in the Manner Of (Scribner, forthcoming March, 2017); New and Selected Poems (Scribner, 2013); Yeshiva Boys (Scribner, 2009), When a Woman Loves a Man (Scribner, 2005); Jim and Dave Defeat the Masked Man, written collaboratively with James Cummins (Soft Skull Press, 2005); The Evening Sun: A Journal in Poetry (Scribner, 2002); The Daily Mirror: A Journal in Poetry (Scribner, 2000); Valentine Place (Scribner, 1996); Operation Memory (Princeton University Press, 1990); and An Alternative to Speech (Princeton University Press, 1986). Lehman’s work has been translated into 16 languages overall, including Chinese, Mongolian, Spanish, French, German, Danish, Russian, Polish, Korean, and Japanese.

His books of prose include Sinatra’s Century: One Hundred Notes on the Man and His World (HarperCollins, 2015); The State of the Art: A Chronicle of American Poetry, 1988-2014 (Pittsburgh, 2015); A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, America Songs (Schocken/Nextbooks 2009); The Last Avant- Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets (Doubleday, 1998), which was named a “Book to Remember 1999” by the New York Public Library; The Big Question (University of Michigan Press, 1995); The Line Forms Here (University of Michigan Press, 1992); and Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man (Simon & Schuster / Poseidon Press, 1991). His study of detective novels, The Perfect Murder (The Free Press, 1989; Michigan, 2000), was nominated for an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs won the Deems Taylor Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) in 2010. Lehman wrote and designed an exhibit based on the book, which visited fifty-five libraries in twenty-seven states on a tour sponsored by the American Library Association. He teaches in the graduate writing program of the New School in New York City. 

Lehman has served as co-director of the KGB Bar Monday night poetry reading series and general editor of the University of Michigan Press’s Poets on Poetry series. His other editorial works include Great American Prose Poems (Scribner, 2003), The Best American Erotic Poems (Scribner, 2008) and The Oxford Book of American Poetry (Oxford University Press, 2006). In addition to these and other anthologies, Lehman has edited volumes of critical essays devoted to John Ashbery and James Merrill (Cornell University Press).

At present he is quizmaster of the “Next Line, Please” poetry challenges sponsored by The American Scholar.

Find out more about David Lehman here.

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