Seth Michelson

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Seth Michelson
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Born (1975-10-10) October 10, 1975 (age 48)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
CitizenshipUnited States of America
  • B.A.
  • MFA
  • Ph.D.
Alma mater
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Sarah Lawrence College
  • University of Southern California
  • Poet
  • Translator
  • Writer
Notable work
Eyes Like Broken Windows (2012), Swimming Through Fire (2017), Dreaming America: Voices of Undocumented Youth in Maximum-Security Detention (2017)
AwardsNational Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (2018)

Seth Michelson (b. 1975), is an award-winning American poet, translator, and professor of poetry.


He received his B.A. from Johns Hopkins University, his MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College,[1] and his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from University of Southern California [2] .


He is the author of fifteen volumes of original poetry, poetry in translation, and an anthology of poetry. He has been praised widely in academic and popular journals for his work, especially the underlying current of compassionate resistance to injustice. Likewise, he has earned widespread acclaim for his teaching and translating, particularly as it addresses injustice through compassion. This includes his groundbreaking translation of female poets and his unprecedented work with incarcerated people. Of the latter, the scholar and critic Montse Feu writes "Until Seth Michelson’s Dreaming America, though, no book had exclusively focused on the lives of the incarcerated children" [3].

His most recent book of original poetry is Swimming Through Fire (2017).[4], and his most recent book of poetry in translation is Women of the Big Sky (2020)[5].

Dreaming America

Michelson compiled, edited, and translated the poetry for the groundbreaking anthology Dreaming America: Voices of Undocumented Youth in Maximum-Security Detention (2017)[6]. Those poems come from poetry workshops that he created and led across three years inside the most restrictive immigrant detention center in the US for undocumented, unaccompanied youth. [7].

The book is widely acclaimed, receiving praise in academic and public venues alike [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]. It is regularly taught in high schools and universities, and it has been featured nationally and internationally in the press in places as diverse as ABC News [15], NPR [16], BBC , and La Diaria of Uruguay [17]. Dreaming America also has been featured at book festivals around the world, and it has been turned into original plays and music. [18]. All proceeds from its sale go to a legal defense fund for incarcerated, undocumented youth [19].


As a translator, Michelson focuses predominantly on poetry by women from Latin America. Thus, his books of poetry in translation include The Ghetto (2011; 2018) by the Argentine poet Tamara Kamenszain, The Red Song by the Uruguayan poet Melisa Machado, roly poly by the Uruguayan poet Victoria Estol, and Poems from the Disaster by the Argentine poet Zulema Moret.

He also earned a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts to translate poetry by the Mapuche poet Liliana Ancalao[20]. That fellowship resulted in Women of the Big Sky (2020), the first-ever, single-author book of poetry by a female Mapuche writer from Argentina to appear in English-language translation. The book is in fact trilingual, featuring the poetry in Mapuzugun, Spanish, and English. [21] [5]..

Outside of Latin America, Michelson has translated two books by the Indian poet Rati Saxena, Dreaming in Another Land (2014) and Scripted in the Streams (2017), and a book by the Israeli poet Amir Or, Wings (2018).


Michelson currently teaches at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, where he founded and directs the Center for Poetic Research [22]



  • Swimming through Fire (2017) ISBN 978-1941209516
  • Eyes Like Broken Windows (2012) ISBN 978-1935708551
  • House in a Hurricane (2010)
  • Kaddish for My Unborn Son (2009)
  • Maestro of Brutal Splendor (2005)

Poetry in translation

  • Women of the Big Sky by Liliana Ancalao, Puelmapu (2020) ISBN 978-1944585433
  • The Ghetto by Tamara Kamenszain, Argentina (2018) ISBN 978-0996913485
  • Wings by Amir Or, Israel (2018) ISBN 978-1944697556
  • The Red Song by Melisa Machado, Uruguay (2018) ISBN 978-0900575983
  • Scripted in the Streams by Rati Sxena, India (2017)
  • Poems from the Disaster by Zulema Moret, Argentina (2016) ISBN 978-8478396412
  • roly poly by Victoria Estol, Uruguay (2014)
  • Dreaming in Another Land by Rati Saxena, India (2014)
  • El Ghetto/The Ghetto: A Bilingual Edition by Tamara Kamenszain, Argentina (2011) ISBN 0978823168


  • Dreaming America: Voices of Undocumented Youth in Maximum-Security Detention (2017) ISBN 978-0985946890

In the media



  1. Alumni Publications Sarah Lawrence College > Alumni Publications > Seth Michelson 'Dreaming America: Voices of Undocumented Youth in Maximum-Security Detention]
  2. "CSLC Alumni and Placements > Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture > USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences".
  3. Montse Feu (2018). "Chiricú Journal: Latino/a Literatures, Arts, and Cultures". Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures. 2 (2): 234–237. doi:10.2979/chiricu.2.2.26. JSTOR 10.2979/chiricu.2.2.26.
  4. "Swimming Through Fire by Seth Michelson". Press 53.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Women of the Big Sky".
  6. "Dreaming America". Settlement House.
  7. "Advocates Say Teen Migrants Need Help, Not Detention Facilities".
  8. "News & Winners". The Poetry Center at PCCC.
  9. Feu, Montse (June 25, 2018). "Dreaming America: Voices of Undocumented Youth in Maximum-Security Detention ed. by Seth Michelson (review)". Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures. 2 (2): 234–237. doi:10.2979/chiricu.2.2.26 – via Project MUSE.
  10. [
  11. "Dreaming America: Voices of Undocumented Youth in Maximum-Security Detention". World Literature Today. December 7, 2017.
  12. "November 2017 Exemplars: Poetry Reviews by Grace Cavalieri | Washington Independent Review of Books".
  13. [url=]
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  17. "Soñar América entre rejas". la diaria. March 13, 2020.
  18. "All are welcome: Theatre CHS repurposes immigrants' poetry, prose for unprecedented play". September 17, 2018.
  19. url=
  20. "Seth Michelson". NEA. November 16, 2017.
  22. "Center for Poetic Research : Washington and Lee University".

External links

This article "Seth Michelson" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical. Articles taken from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be accessed on Wikipedia's Draft Namespace.