Frederick Seidel’s “Widening Income Inequality”




Mike Licht, (based on a WPA photo by John E. Allen)

At our last issue launch party, Frederick Seidel, looking over a throng of people, turned to me and asked, “What do you make of all this?” There were summer thunderstorms that night, which kept people from going home and in turn encouraged a sort of athletic drinking.

Before I could answer him (not that I would have even had the gall to answer), a stranger embraced me in a very sudden, shapeless goodbye.

I turned back to Mr. Seidel, who scoffed, “There you go like all the ‘other girls,’ sticking your butt out as you hug a poor fellow, god forbid your pelvises touch!”

“But that’s what I make of it, Seidel! All of my goodbyes are hinged at the waist.”

Strangely enough, Frederick Seidel is what brought me to The Paris Review. I was asked to do a reading of his poems in honor of Bastille Day, which I am sure he found too crass of an idea to actually attend. I was told it would be a “big deal” because they were all “debuts,” as Seidel never reads his poetry out loud.

Of course, I reveled in the bawdy reality of a young girl reading the poems of Fred Seidel. I still do. This may seem like I am campaigning to become Frederick Seidel’s exclusive reader; make no mistake, that is exactly what I am doing. So here I am, Fred, hinging at the waist, bawdily reading your poem. What do you make of all of that?