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Donald Alexander Finkel Edit Profile

poet , Master

Donald Alexander Finkel, American poet. Recipient Theodore Roethke Memorial award, 1974, Morton Dauwen Zabel award, 1980, Dictionary of Literary Biography award, 1994; Guggenheim fellow, 1966; grantee Ingram Merrill Foundation, 1972; grantee National Endowment for Arts, 1973. Member Cave Research Foundation, Phi Beta Kappa.


Finkel was born in New York City on October 21, 1929. He grew up in the Bronx, and aspired to be a sculptor as a youth.


He attended the University of Chicago, only to be expelled for smoking marijuana. Finkel attended Columbia University, where he was awarded a bachelor's degree in philosophy in 1952.


He earned a master's degree in English from Columbia in 1953. He taught at the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa and at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, prior to accepting a faculty position at Washington University in St. Louis in 1960. He taught at Washington University until 1991, and was poet-in-residence emeritus there until his death.

Mr. Finkel’s wife, Constance Urdang, a novelist and poet, died in 1996. He translated A Splintered Mirror: Chinese From the Democracy Movement with Carolyn Kizer, which was published in 1991. Before his death, Finkel returned to sculpture, creating pieces from buttons, bottles and other found objects, in a process he called "dreckolage".

He died at age 79 on November 15, 2008 at his home in St. Louis, Missouri of complications of Alzheimer's disease.



Quotations: “Let there be meaning,”.


Member Cave Research Foundation, Phi Beta Kappa.


Married Constance Urdang, August 14, 1956 (deceased 1996). Children: Elizabeth Antonia, Thomas Noah, Amy Mariah.

Saul A. Finkel

Meta (Rosenthal) Finkel

Constance Urdang

Elizabeth Antonia Finkel

Thomas Noah Finkel

Amy Mariah Finkel