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 1996 a selection of his work was published in the Penguin Modern Poets series. 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. His New and Selected Poems, edited by Christopher Ricks, was published by the Library of America in 2005. An expanded edition, published with Life Is Immense: Visiting Samuel Menashe, a film on DVD by Pamela Robertson-Pearce, was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2009.
This video is an excerpt from Life is Immense: visiting Samuel Menashe, a film by Pamela Robertson-Pearce. It 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' and 'Voyage'. The film is issued on DVD with Samuel Menashe's New & Selected Poems.