Bangalore-born Vijay Seshadri, who moved to America at the age of five in 1959, has won the 2014 Pulitzer prize for poetry for his collection of poems 3 Sections (Graywolf Press), which was described by the jury as "a compelling collection of poems that examine human consciousness, from birth to dementia, in a voice that is by turns witty and grave, compassionate and remorseless."
Seshadri has received grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, and has been awarded the Paris Review's Bernard F. Conners Long Poem Prize and the MacDowell Colony's Fellowship for Distinguished Poetic Achievement.
He holds an A.B. degree from Oberlin College and an M.F.A. from Columbia University. He currently teaches poetry and nonfiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College, and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.
His collections of poems include James Laughlin Award winner The Long Meadow (Graywolf Press, 2004) and Wild Kingdom (1996).
His poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in AGNI, the American Scholar, Antaeus, Bomb, Boulevard, Lumina, the Nation, the New Yorker, the Paris Review, Shenandoah,Southwest Review, Threepenny Review, Verse, Western Humanities Review, Yale Review, the Times Book Review, the Philadelphia Enquirer, Bomb, San Diego Reader, and TriQuarterly, and in many anthologies, including Under 35: The New Generation of American Poets, Contours of the Heart, Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times, and The Best American Poetry 1997 and 2003.
Some older poems and readings:
The Descent of Man
My failure to evolve has been causing me a lot of grief lately.
I can't walk on my knuckles through the acres of shattered glass in the streets.
I get lost in the arcades. My feet stink at the soirees.
The hills have been bulldozed from whence cameth my help.
The halfway houses where I met my kind dreaming of flickering lights in the woods
are shuttered I don't know why.
"Try," say the good people who bring me my food,
"to make your secret anguish your secret weapon.
Otherwise, your immortality will be
an exhibit in a vitrine at the local museum, a picture in a book."
But I can't get the hang of it. The heavy instructions fall from my hands.
It takes so long for the human to become a human!
He affrights civilizations with his cry. At his approach,
the mountains retreat. A great wind crashes the garden party.
Manipulate singly neither his consummation nor his despair
but the two together like curettes
and peel back the pitch-black integuments
to discover the penciled-in figure on the painted-over mural of time,
sitting on the sketch of a boulder below
his aching sunrise, his moody, disappointed sunset.
We hold it against you that you survived.
People better than you are dead,
but you still punch the clock.
Your body has wizened but has not bled
its substance out on the killing floor
or flatlined in intensive care
or vanished after school
or stepped off the ledge in despair.
Of all those you started with,
only you are still around;
only you have not been listed with
the defeated and the drowned.
So how could you ever win our respect?--
you, who had the sense to duck,
you, with your strength almost intact
and all your good luck.