David R. Slavitt
  • David R. Slavitt

  • Date of birth: March 23, 1935
  • Born: in White Plains, New York, The United States.

  • Description: David Rytman Slavitt (born 23 March 1935 in White Plains, New York) is a writer, poet, and translator, the author of more than 100 books.

    Slavitt attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, where his first writing teacher was Dudley Fitts. He received an undergraduate degree from Yale University (where he studied under Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren and was elected class poet, "Scholar of the House," in 1956), graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (magna cum laude), and then a Master's degree in English from Columbia University in 1957

    Before becoming a full-time free-lance writer in 1965, Slavitt worked at various jobs in the literary field. These included a stint in the personnel office of Reader's Digest in Pleasantville, New York; teaching English at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta (1957–1958); and a variety of jobs at Newsweek in New York. Slavitt began there as a mailroom clerk, was promoted to the positions of book reviewer and film critic, and earned the position of associate editor from 1958 to 1963. He edited the movies pages from 1963 to 1965.

    Okla Elliott, a professor and Illinois Distinguished Fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, has written of Slavitt that he "served as an associate editor at Newsweek until 1965, teaching himself Greek on his 35-minute commute. In his last two years at Newsweek, he had a reputation as an astute, sometime cranky, but always readable 'flicker picker' and gained some notoriety for his film reviews there."

    Slavitt taught as an assistant professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1977, and at Temple University, in Philadelphia, as associate professor from 1978 to 1980. Slavitt was a lecturer at Columbia University from 1985 to 1986, at Rutgers University in 1987, and at the University of Pennsylvania in 1991. He has served as a visiting professor at the University of Texas at El Paso and other institutions. He has given poetry readings at colleges and universities, at the Folger Shakespeare Library, and at the Library of Congress.

    His first work, a book of poems titled Suits for the Dead, was published in 1961.

    In the 1960s, Slavitt was approached by Bernie Geis & Associates to write a big book, a popular book, which he agreed to if he could use a pseudonym. As Henry Sutton, in 1967 he published The Exhibitionist, which sold more than 4 million copies. He followed this with The Voyeur in 1968 and three more novels as Henry Sutton. He has also published popular novels under the names of David Benjamin, Lynn Meyer, and Henry Lazarus.

    Slavitt has published numerous works in translation, especially classics, from Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Spanish and French.

    Henry S. Taylor, winner of the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, has written, "David Slavitt is among the most accomplished living practitioners" of writing, "in both prose and verse; his poems give us a pleasurable, beautiful way of meditating on a bad time. We can't ask much more of literature, and usually we get far less."

    Novelist and poet James Dickey wrote, "Slavitt has such an easy, tolerant, believable relationship with the ancient world and its authors that making the change-over from that world to ours is less a leap than an enjoyable stroll. The reader feels a continual sense of gratitude."

    Georgia Jones-Davis, a poet and journalist, has said, "Slavitt is brilliant and he writes with grace, passion and humor."

    Awards and honors

    Edgar Award Nominee for Best First Novel for Paperback Thriller, 1976

    Grant from Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, 1985
    National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship, 1988

    Literature award, American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1989

    Rockefeller Foundation artist's residency, 1989. Slavitt used the time period of the retreat (November 3 - December 12, 1989) to work on a translation of the curse poem Ibis by the Latin poet Ovid.

    Kevin Kline Award, 2011, for Outstanding New Play or Musical

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