The Cosmos Trilogy

Frederick Seidel

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

224 Pages



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The Cosmos Trilogy gathers Seidel’s three previous volumes of poetry, which together comprise a dark yet comic—and widely acclaimed—opus, a perverse, prophetic masterwork from the poet whom Richard Poirier has called "the true heir of Walt Whitman."

Reversing Dante's Divine Comedy, Seidel’s trilogy begins in the heavens, with The Cosmos Poems, descends through the purgatory of Life on Earth, and ends in the hellish Manhattan of Area Code 212. As Susan Wheeler has noted, “Not since Milton dangled Creation on its chain from Paradise has our universe been more urgently displayed.”


Praise for The Cosmos Trilogy

"Area Code 212 [is] our new Waste Land, as monitory and radical [today] as T.S. Eliot's poem was in 1922. Eliot never won a Pulitzer, but Seidel should win the next one."—George Held, The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Life on Earth is an exemplary book, Seidel's best, and one of the best by an American poet in the past twenty years."—Michael Hofmann, The Times Literary Supplement

"The humor behind [The Cosmos Poems] is savage; it is funny and sinister at once . . . Just as bonsai pots are designed to twist up a tree's affect through constraint, so Seidel's stanzas catch tornadoes in clay."—Robyn Creswell, Raritan

"[Seidel] grips the twentieth century between his teeth like a blade as he speaks . . . [He is] one of the more formidable poets of the last third of [that] century."—Calvin Bedient, Poetry

"Unafraid of being unacceptable, Seidel emerges as an oddity, one of the rare poets who, in retelling a tale from Ovid's Metamorphoses, can say, 'Fuck the muse,' and still sing."—Brian Henry, The Threepenny Review

"The moral thrills of [Seidel's] poetry can be as daunting as the moral spills, the cruel intelligence of glamour as alluring as the mystical stillness that is somewhere also at the heart of his poetry . . . Here is the new kind of visionary, the person who really wants to change the world fast, the person who believes in something."—Adam Phillips, Raritan

"In an era that fancies itself particularly gender-tender, [this] poet doesn't pull his punches in accounts of encounters with women. His is a conspicuously male slant on matters of sexual engagement. As a woman, and more precisely as a woman alert to every stripe of lyric fire, I find myself more moved by Seidel's brutal, excruciated 'Recessional' . . . than by any of a thousand more conventional mournings. His work deserves more celebration than it gets."—Heather McHugh, Lingua Franca

Reviews from Goodreads



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Frederick Seidel's previous books of poems include Final Solutions; Sunrise, These Days; Poems, 1959-1979; My Tokyo (FSG, 1993); Going Fast (FSG, 1998); The Cosmos Poems (FSG, 2000); and Life on Earth (FSG, 2001).
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  • Frederick Seidel

  • Frederick Seidel's previous books of poetry include Final Solutions; Sunrise, winner of the Lamont Prize and the 1980 National Book Critics Circle Award; These Days; Poems, 1959-1979; My Tokyo; Going Fast; Area Code 212; Life on Earth; and The Cosmos Poems. He received the 2002 PEN/Voelker Award for Poetry.
  • Frederick Seidel © Nancy Crampton