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Photo by Don J. Usner

August Kleinzahler

Photo by Don J. Usner

August Kleinzahler‘s poetry is described by the New York Times as “a modernist swirl of sex, surrealism, urban life and melancholy with a jazzy backbeat. His personality combines Allen Ginsberg’s goofball charm and Norman Mailer’s inveterate pugnacity.” He has published eight books of poetry, including A Calendar of Airs (1978); Earthquake Weather (1989); Red Sauce Whiskey and Snow (1995); and in 2003, The Strange Hours Travelers Keep which won the 2004 Griffin International Poetry Prize and the 2004 Gold Medal in Poetry from the Commonwealth Club of California, and was short-listed for the U.K.‘s Forward Prize in Poetry. His most recent collection of poetry is Sleeping It Off in Rapid City. He is also the author of a book of prose, Cutty, One Rock: Low Characters and Strange Places, Gently Explained (FSG, 2004).

His poems have appeared in numerous publications including The New Yorker, Poetry, Harper’s, and The Paris Review. A native of Jersey City, Kleinzahler is the recipient of many awards, including a Lannan Literary Award for Poetry in 2008. Kleinzahler has been a taxi driver, a locksmith, a logger, and a building manager. He has taught creative writing courses at Brown University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, as well as to homeless veterans in the Bay Area. He lives in San Francisco. On the title of poet, Kleinzahler says, “I don’t like to call myself a poet. Most poets are shiftless, no-account fools.”

Prizes, Awards & Fellowships
  • 2008 Lannan Literary Award for Poetry