Michael Blumenthal

1949 –

Michael Blumenthal, a poet, prose writer, and translator, was born in Vineland, New Jersey, on March 8, 1949. He grew up in a German-speaking home in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. Blumenthal received his BA in philosophy from the State University of New York in Binghamton in 1969, and his JD from Cornell Law School in 1974. From 1985 to 1986, he studied clinical psychology at Antioch University and worked in private practice as a psychotherapist with Anglophone expatriates in Budapest.

Blumenthal’s debut collection, Sympathetic Magic (Water Mark Press, 1980), received the Water Mark Poets of North America First Book Prize. His other collections include, most recently, No Hurry: Poems 2000–2012 (Etruscan Press, 2012); And (BOA Editions, 2009); and Dusty Angel (BOA Editions, 1999), winner of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Prize. He is also the translator of And Yet: Selected Poems of Péter Kántor (Pleasure Boat Studios, 2009)

In his foreword to Blumenthal’s first book, writer Charles Fishman noted:

Like Gerald Stern or David Ignatow, Blumenthal has a genuine comic gift as well as a broad, deep sensibility that encompasses and transforms nearly everything he touches—nearly everything that touches him.

About his work, Grace Schulman has said, “Michael Blumenthal has the intelligence to sort out complexities, the innocence to see the world new, and the craft to combine those often incompatible qualities.”

Also the author of fiction and nonfiction, Blumenthal has published “Because They Needed Me”: The Incredible Struggle of Rita Miljo to Save the Orphaned Baboons of South Africa (Pleasure Boat Studios, 2015); Just Three Minutes, Please: Thinking Out Loud on Public Radio (Vandalia Press, 2013); and All My Mothers and Fathers: A Memoir (HarperCollins, 2002). Blumenthal has also published various prose translations. In 2009, he received the poetry prize from the Society for Contemporary Literature in German.

Blumenthal’s other honors include fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Ingram-Merrill Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation. In 1985, he was selected by Howard Nemerov to receive the Lavan Younger Poets Prize from the Academy of American Poets.

Blumenthal has lived in, and taught at universities in, France, Germany, Hungary, and Israel. He has served as the Copenhaver Distinguished Visiting Chair in Law and is presently a professor of law at West Virginia University.