Vijay Seshadri Wiki, Age, Wife, Family, Biography & More

Vijay Seshadri

Vijay Seshadri is an American poet, essayist, and literary critic. He is the first Asian American to win a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Wiki/Biography

Vijay Seshadri was born on Saturday, 13 February 1954 (age 69 years; as of 2023) in Bangalore, India. His zodiac sign is Aquarius. At age 5, he moved to Columbus, Ohio, with his family. His parents wanted him to become a mathematician. He started studying mathematics in college before switching to philosophy and pursued a Bachelor of Arts at Oberlin College and later pursued an MFA at Columbia University. He attended a doctoral program for Middle Eastern studies which took him to Pakistan to study Urdu and Persian, where he was supposed to stay for a year, but he never finished his doctorate and returned to the United States within four months. During his time in Pakistan, he realised he wanted to be a poet, not a scholar.

Physical Appearance

Hair Colour: Grey

Eye Colour: Black

Vijay Seshadri

 

Family

Vijay Seshadri belongs to a Tamil-Kannada-speaking Indian migrated family in the United States.

Parents & Siblings

Vijay’s father taught at Ohio State University.

Vijay Seshadri's childhood picture with his parents

Vijay Seshadri’s childhood picture with his parents

Wife & Children

His wife, Suzanne Khuri, is a theatre artist and a learning specialist for mildly disabled and autistic children. They have a son, Nicholas.

Religion/Religious Views

Vijay is an atheist. In an interview, he talked about his religion and claimed that he was not raised as per the norms of a particular religion. He said,

I was raised by a scientist. My father was a chemist. I mean, I was raised by people who had achieved a purity that went beyond religion. If I were religious, I would probably embrace something that is essentially pantheism, but has strong Christian elements to it. Because I’ve grown up in a Christian context for so long, it’s so natural to me to frame narrative in that way. But there is no religion that actually is like that.” [1]Open Magazine

Signature/Autograph

Vijay Seshadri Signature

Career

Literary 

Vijay started writing poetry when he was 16 and started working on his debut novel when he turned 20. While working on the novel, he stopped writing poetry. After his debut novel was released, it did not gain much popularity and according to Vijay, the failure of his book led him back to poetry. He published his first poem in 1985 in The Threepenny Review. He published his first book of poems six years later, in 1996, while working as a copy editor at The New Yorker when he was 42. He first earned recognition when his poem “The Disappearances” made the back page of The New Yorker. “The Disappearances” is themed around Seshadri’s take on John F. Kennedy’s assassination. The New Yorker’s poetry editor, Alice Quinn, while praising the poem, said,

summoned up, with acute poignance, a typical American household and scene…The combination of epic sweep (including the quoted allusion to one of Emily Dickinson’s Civil War masterpieces, from 1862) and piercing, evocative detail is characteristic of the contribution Seshadri has made to the American canon.”

Vijay Seshadri reading his poetry at the Backroads Reading series in the Congregational Church in Brownington, Vermont.

Vijay Seshadri reading his poetry at the Backroads Reading series in the Congregational Church in Brownington, Vermont

Vijay has written many poems including Wild Kingdom (1996), That Was Now, this is Then (2020), The Long Meadow, and The Disappearances. After working as the editor of The New York Times for 7 years, Vijay left the job and started working as a professor at the Sarah Lawrence College, where he taught courses on ‘Non-Fiction Writing,’ ‘Form and Feeling in Nonfiction Prose,’ ‘Rational and Irrational Narrative,’ and ‘Narrative Persuasion.’

Vijay Seshadri giving a lecture at the Sarah Lawrence College

Vijay Seshadri giving a lecture at the Sarah Lawrence College

Seshadari’s poems including “Rereading” (2012), “Visiting Paris” (2010), and “Thought Problem” (2009) have been published in The New York Times. He’s the first poetry editor of South-Asian origin at Paris Review. He received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the NEA, and the Guggenheim Foundation.

 

Vijay Seshadri has attended many literary events including the Jaipur Literature Festival and Tata Literature Festival in Mumbai.

Vijay Seshadri at Jaipur Literature festival

Vijay Seshadri at Jaipur Literature Festival

Vijay Seshadri at the Tata Literature festival in Mumbai

Vijay Seshadri at the Tata Literature Festival in Mumbai

Other Work

After he completed college, Vijay was inspired by the counterculture happening in America and became a part of it. In 1974, he drove a truck for a wholesale book company in Oakland, which supplied all the college bookstores in the Bay Area, in the Peninsula, and into the Valley. He did this job for a whole year and later decided to hitchhike to the San Francisco Bay area, where he stayed until 1977, worked as a bicycle messenger, and started a floor-finishing business. In 1977, he moved to Newport and worked in the fishing industry. He stayed there for 5 years, and during that time he wrote a novel. In 1982, he moved to New York to become a writer. [2]The New York Times

Vijay Seshadri in his counterculture days

Vijay Seshadri in his counterculture days

Awards & Honors

  • In 2014, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his poetry in 3 Sections.

    Vijay Seshadri receiving the 2014 Poetry Prize from Columbia University President

    Vijay Seshadri receiving the 2014 Poetry Prize from Columbia University President

  • The James Laughlin Prize of the Academy of American Poets for his poem The Long Meadow (2003).
  • In 2014, he won the Paris Review’s Bernard F. Conners Long Poem Prize.
  • In 2004, he received the Guggenheim Fellowship.

Favourites

  • Writer: John Ashbery
  • Sport: Football
  • Poet: T. S. Eliot

Facts/Trivia

  • At the age of 16, he skipped two grades, and this was the time he started writing poetry.
  •  In an interview, talking about writing poetry, Vijay said,

    Everyone can write poems. Everyone has poetic feelings. It’s a romantic notion, isn’t it? And what is romantic is also revolutionary.”

  • In an interview, Seshadri talked about the impact of Indian mythology and stories on his writings and said,

    What reading Indian mythology gave me was a taste for the imaginative and the fantastic. Indian stories are so imaginative, so wild. Like the stories from the Bhagavata Purana. I’ve always had an attraction for the imaginative, even among writers. like Flaubert’s God, Eliot is everywhere present in his work but nowhere apparent.”

    Vijay Seshadri spending time with book at his home in Brooklyn

    Vijay Seshadri spending time with book at his home in Brooklyn

References[+]

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