by Gretchen Primack
The great poet L. S. Asekoff has published four books: Dreams of a Work (1994) and North Star (1997) with Orchises Press, and The Gate of Horn (2010) and Freedom Hill (2011) with TriQuarterly/Northwestern University Press. Between books, his thoughtful poems have appeared in such magazines as The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Poetry, and Ninth Letter. He has received awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fund for Poetry. Recent years have been especially award-heavy: in 2012 he was chosen as a Witter Bynner Fellow to the Library of Congress by then-poet laureate Phil Levine, and the following year he received a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Equally impressive is Asekoff’s teaching career at Brooklyn College. He and Allen Ginsberg were long-time bricks of the MFA program there, though Ginsburg’s impressive tenure of eleven years looks small compared to Asekoff’s forty-two years. That’s right: Asekoff taught graduate students for two generations — and served part of the time as a faculty associate at the prestigious Wolfe Institute for the Humanities. He’s now retired from the college and using the time to work on a new book at the home he shares with his wife, printmaker Louise Kalin, in Clermont, New York.
Fellow poet luminary — and first ever judge of the Raynes Poetry Prize — Gerald Stern praises the “mystery and clarity combined” in Asekoff’s work. And former Poet Laureate Billy Collins writes, “Whether speaking in his own voice or in that of one of his vital dramatic projections, Asekoff proceeds as any strong poet does, line by surprising line, and in his case, with a special empathetic intelligence.”
We are proud to have LS Asekoff as judge for the 2015 Raynes Prize and can’t wait to see what poetic gems he chooses.
Gretchen Primack coordinates our national Raynes Poetry Competition and is the author of Doris’ Red Spaces (Mayapple Press, 2014) and Kind (Post Traumatic Press, 2013), among other books.