Seth abramson

Seth Abramson. Courtesy Full Stop.

Seth Abramson
Occupation Poet
Nationality American

Seth Abramson (born October 31, 1976) is an American poet, attorney, editor, and freelance journalist.[1]


Abramson was born in Concord, Massachusetts. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He is currently a doctoral student in English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and a Senior Editor for the literary magazine Devil's Lake.[2][3]

Publishers Weekly notes that Abramson has "picked up a very large following as a blogger and commentator, covering poetry, politics, and higher education, and generating a controversial, U.S. News-style ranking of graduate programs in writing."[4] In recommending Northerners, the poet's 2nd collection of poetry, the magazine called Abramson "serious and ambitious...uncommonly interested in general statements, in hard questions, and harder answers, about how to live." Don Share, Senior Editor for Poetry, has said of Abramson's "What I Have," awarded the 2008 J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize by the magazine, "the poem absorbs certain details but doesn't fasten upon them the way poets are tempted to do; it's not adjectival, it's not descriptive, it's not painting a kind of canvas with scenery on it, and yet those details are really fascinating."[5]

A former public defender, poetry editor, and commentator for Air America Radio, Abramson was nominated for a Koufax Award in 2005 and is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post on the topic of graduate creative writing programs.[6][7]

MFA RankingsEdit

Abramson authors The Suburban Ecstasies, a website that publishes rankings of creative writing Master of Fine Arts programs on the basis of their popularity among applicants, as determined through surveys conducted on The Creative Writing MFA Blog, a website run by novelist Tom Kealey since 2005. The Suburban Ecstasies also ranks programs on the basis of their funding, selectivity, student-to-faculty ratio, job placement, fellowship placement, and other data provided by the programs themselves.[8][9] In 2009 these rankings were adopted by Poets & Writers.[10][11] Poets & Writers now publishes these rankings annually, having expanded them to include (beginning in 2010) an assessment of low-residency MFA programs.[12][13] The methodology for these rankings was published by Poets & Writers in 2010.[14]

The Chronicle of Higher Education has termed the Poets & Writers MFA rankings "the only MFA ranking regime." [15] Writing in Boulevard and The Huffington Post, novelist and poet Anis Shivani noted the "great brouhaha" caused by "a journeyman's attempt to rank MFA programs...according to input from potential apprentices as opposed to evaluations by journeymen and masters themselves."[16][17] Avant-garde literary critic Ron Silliman claims Abramson's research and writing on MFA programs is part of a larger sea change in American poetics; according to Silliman, "Abramson's take [on poetry in American life] is new and different. And important....[he believes] we are moving away from poetry as a literature--let alone as a canon--toward poetry as a practice..." [18] The Poets & Writers rankings have also been criticized, however. The Association of Writers & Writing Programs in particular has been highly critical of the rankings' methodology,[19] stating that "the tutelage of an artist is a complex and serious business, and it cannot be reduced to a single spreadsheet column sorted in descending order."[20]

In September 2011, an open letter signed by nearly two hundred professors from undergraduate and graduate creative writing programs was published, calling the rankings "specious" and terming their methodology "unethical" and "quite misleading."[21] A week later, Poets & Writers responded to the open letter, asserting that it had "adhere[d] to the highest journalistic standards...Our ethical obligation is to be transparent to our readers about the source of the rankings and how they were derived, which we have done consistently and without reservation."[22] Of Abramson, the rankings' primary researcher, the magazine's Editorial Director Mary Gannon said, "[he] has been collecting data about applicants' preferences and about MFA programs for five years, and we stand behind his integrity."[23]




  • The Suburban Ecstasies. Denver, CO: Ghost Road Press, 2009.
  • Northerners. Kalamazoo, MI: Western Michigan University Press, 2011.
  • Thievery. Akron, OH: University of Akron Press, 2013.


  • The Creative Writing MFA Handbook, 2nd Edition. (with Tom Kealey). New York: Continuum Publishing]], 2008.
  • The Creative Writing MFA Handbook, 3rd Edition. Continuum Publishing, 2012. [co-author][27]
The Damn Day (Poem)

The Damn Day (Poem)

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[28]

See alsoEdit


  1. Author biography, The Huffington Post.
  2. Author biography, AGNI.
  4. Review of Northerners, Publishers Weekly (May 2011).
  5. "You're Always Moving Toward Silence," Poetry (March 2009 Poetry Foundation Podcast).
  6. "Living on LIPP," The Harvard Law Record (September 22, 2005).
  7. The New Hampshire Review (Masthead).
  8. The Suburban Ecstasies [Blog]
  9. "A Setting for Grad Writers", The Guardian, Joanna Cardenas, March 30, 2009.
  10. "2010 MFA Rankings: The Top 50," Poets & Writers. Archived Template:Date at WebCite
  11. "The Top 50 MFA Programs," Poets & Writers.
  12. "2011 MFA Rankings: The Top Fifty," Poets & Writers.
  13. "2011 MFA Rankings: The Top Ten Low-Residency Programs," Poets & Writers.
  14. "2011 Poets & Writers Magazine Ranking of MFA Programs: A Guide to the Methodology," Poets & Writers.
  15. "M.F.A. Application-Season Etiquette," The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  16. "The MFA/Creative Writing System Is An Undemocratic, Medieval Guild System That Represses Good Writing," Boulevard.
  17. "Creative Writing Programs: Is The MFA System Corrupt And Undemocratic?," The Huffington Post.
  18. "The Most Underappreciated Profession," Ron Silliman (August 12, 2009).
  19. Fenza, D.W.. "For Prospective Students— AWP's 2011 Ranking of MFA Programs". Association of Writers & Writing Programs. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  20. "AWP's Response to a Recent Article Ranking MFA Programs".
  21. Stoeffel, Kat (8 September 2011). "Creative Writing Profs Dispute Their Ranking–No, the Entire Notion of Ranking!". The New York Observer. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  22. "Poets & Writers Responds to Open Letter". Poets & Writers. 13 September 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  23. "Poets & Writers Responds to Open Letter". Poets & Writers. 13 September 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  24. "Abramson - Northerners". New Issues Press. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  25. "Prizes". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  26. "Best New Poets 2008: 50 Poems from Emerging Writers". University of Virginia Press. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  28. Search results = au:Seth Abramson, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Dec. 6, 2014.

External links Edit


Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing.

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. (view article). (view authors).
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.