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Title: Donald Finkel [Ντόναλντ Φίνκελ] (1929 - 2008)
Post by: wings on 22 Nov, 2008, 14:26:43
Donald Finkel 1929-2008

Illuminated poetry's possibilities

New York Times News Service
November 22, 2008

Donald Finkel, an American poet whose work teemed with curious juxtapositions that helped illuminate the function of poetry itself, died on Nov. 15 at his home in St. Louis. He was 79.

The cause was complications of Alzheimer's disease, his son, Tom, said.

Mr. Finkel was poet in residence emeritus at Washington University in St. Louis, where he had taught from 1960 to 1991.

Among his 14 volumes of poetry are "Simeon" (1964), "A Joyful Noise" (1966), "The Garbage Wars" (1970) and "What Manner of Beast" (1981). In 2003, Mid-List Press published Mr. Finkel's collection "Not So the Chairs: Selected and New Poems."

His work could be mordantly comic and was often of epic length; a single poem could fill an entire volume. There was little high-flown abstraction in his poetry, and little lofty diction. Writing in colloquial free verse and butting normally disparate subjects against each other, he blurred the boundaries between the animate and inanimate, the mythic and the mundane, the sacred and the profane.

Mr. Finkel sometimes intercut his poems with prose excerpts from a range of sources, among them Albert Camus, Adm. Richard Byrd, Franz Kafka and Lenny Bruce. Born in New York City, he attended the University of Chicago but was expelled for smoking marijuana, his son said on Monday. He received a bachelor's degree from Columbia University in 1952 and a master's in English from Columbia the next year. He taught at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and Bard College before joining the Washington University faculty.