Michael Benedikt was born in 1935 and earned degrees from New York University and Columbia University. An associate editor with Art News and Art International, Benedikt has occasionally been grouped with the New York School poets, and was managing editor of the magazine associated with the group, Locus Solus, for a brief time in the 1960s. Benedikt was also responsible for bringing European avant-garde poetry and theater to the U.S., mainly through his editorship of the landmark anthologies The Poetry of Surrealism (1974) and The Prose Poem: An International Anthology (1976). He also co-edited three volumes of plays, including Modern French Theater: The Avant-Garde, Dada, and Surrealism (1964), Post-War German Theater (1967), and Modern Spanish Theater (1969), as well as edited the collection Theater Experiment: American Plays (1967).

Benedikt’s own poetry is noted for its surrealistic roots. In a review of The Body (1968), Peter Gellatly of Library Journal compared Benedikt’s poetry to “a Chagall painting. In both, curious unrealities and soaring abstractions combine with mundane recognizable fact, and both have an emotional appeal that just about takes the breath away.” Benedikt’s other early surrealist-influenced work includes Sky (1970). With the publication of Mole Notes (1971), Benedikt’s poetry turned from traditional verse structures to the prose poem. Night Cries (1976) was Benedikt’s second collection of prose poems. His fifth book, The Badminton at Great Barrington; or, Gustave Mahler and the Chattanooga Choo-Choo (1980), worked in a more realistic vein. Benedikt told Contemporary Authors: “Since my first publication, but perhaps beginning in the mid-1970s especially, my poetry has changed considerably. In my recent work, I try to incorporate earlier skills and techniques in the direction of what I think of as ‘psychological realism.’ Still more recently, I have moved towards a more literally realistic direction. An underlying theme in my poems has always been change; my present poems increasingly represent those changes, external, now, as well as internal, which are necessary to my art and life, and which I believe are possible for us all.”
Editor of the Paris Review from 1975-1978, Benedikt taught at institutions such as Sarah Lawrence, Bennington, Vassar, and Boston University. His as-yet uncollected later poems appeared in publications such as Agni, Iowa Review, the New Republic, the Paris Review, and Partisan Review. His honors included fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council for the Arts. Michael Benedikt died in 2007.



  • Serenade in Six Pieces, privately printed, 1958.
  • Changes: A Chapbook, New Fresco (Detroit), 1961.
  • 8 Poems, privately printed, 1966.
  • The Body, Wesleyan University Press (Middletown, CT), 1968.
  • Sky, Wesleyan University Press, 1970.
  • Mole Notes, Wesleyan University Press, 1971.
  • Night Cries, Wesleyan University Press, 1976.
  • The Badminton at Great Barrington; or, Gustav Mahler and the Chattanooga Choo-Choo, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980.


  • The Vaseline Photographer, first produced in New York City, 1965.
  • Box, first produced in New York City, 1970.


  • (With George E. Wellwarth) Modern French Theatre: The Avant-Garde, Dada, and Surrealism, Dutton, 1964 (published in England as Modern French Plays: An Anthology from Jarry to Ionesco, Faber, 1965 ).
  • (With Wellwarth) Postwar German Theatre: An Anthology of Plays, Dutton, 1967.
  • (And translator) Ring around the World: The Selected Poems of Jean L’Anselme, Rapp & Whiting, 1967, Swallow Press, 1968.
  • Theatre Experiment: New American Plays, Doubleday, 1967.
  • (With Wellwarth) Modern Spanish Theatre: An Anthology of Plays, Dutton, 1968.
  • (And translator) 22 Poems of Robert Desnos, Kayak, 1971.
  • (And translator) The Poetry of Surrealism: An Anthology, Little, Brown, 1974.
  • (And co-translator) The Prose Poem: An International Anthology, Dell, 1976.


  • Angel Flores, editor, Medieval Age, Dell, 1963.
  • Gregory Battcock, editor, Minimal Art, Dutton, 1968.
  • Toby Mussman, editor, Jean-Luc Godard, Dutton, 1968.
  • T. B. Hess and John Ashbery, editors, The Grand Eccentrics, Collier, 1971.
  • Battcock, editor, New Artists Video, Dutton, 1978.
  • Today’s Poets 5, Folkways Records, 1968.


  • The Contemporary American Poets: American Poetry since 1940, edited by Mark Strand, 1969.
  • The American Poetry Anthology, edited by Daniel Halpern, Follett, 1969.
  • The Modern Poets, edited by Daniel Halpern, Follett, 1969.
  • The Modern Poets, edited by J. M. Brinnin and Bill Read, McGraw, 1970.
  • Contemporary American Poetry, edited by Donald Hall, Penguin, 1972.
  • 50 Contemporary Poets: The Creative Process, McKay, 1976.
  • To Make a Poem, Longmans, 1981.


  • Contributor of poems, reviews, and plays to many periodicals, including Poetry, American Book Review, American Poetry Review, Hudson Review, Iowa Review, Kayak, Massachusetts Review, Agni Review, Seneca Review, Partisan Review, Paris Review, Ploughshares, Tri-Quarterly, and Beyond Baroque. Associate editor, Art News, 1963-72; New York correspondent, Art International, 1965-67; poetry editor, Paris Review, 1974-78; contributing editor, American Poetry Review, 1975—.


Further Readings


  • Benedikt: A Profile, Grilled Flowers Press (Tucson), 1978.
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale, Volume IV, 1975, Volume XIV, 1980.
  • Contemporary Poets, sixth edition, St. James Press, 1996.
  • Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume V: American Poets since World War II, Gale, 1980.
  • 50 Contemporary Poets: The Creative Process, McKay, 1976.
  • Lieberman, Laurence, Unassigned Frequencies: American Poetry in Review, 1964-77, University of Illinois Press, 1977.


  • Afterimage, December, 1991, p. 8.
  • Choice, April, 1972.
  • Falcon, winter, 1972.
  • Kliatt, March, 1996, p. 53.
  • Library Journal, October 1, 1968, September 15, 1971, November 1, 1991, p. 128, February 1, 1996, p. 116.
  • Modern Poetry Studies, winter, 1976, spring, 1977.
  • Nature, December 5, 1991, p. 367.
  • New Letters, spring, 1977.
  • New York Times Book Review, October 4, 1992, p. 32.
  • Ohio Review, spring, 1977.
  • Poetry, August, 1977.
  • Prairie Schooner, spring, 1973.
  • Salmagundi, winter-spring, 1980.
  • Saturday Review, April 3, 1971.
  • Times Literary Supplement, October 17, 1968, July 23, 1976.
  • Virginia Quarterly Review, summer, 1971.
  • Western Humanities Review, summer, 1971.
  • Yale Review, March, 1971.