Matthew Zapruder '89

Matthew Zapruder Name: Matthew Zapruder '89

Home: Oakland, CA

Birth: Washington, D.C.

Education: Amherst College B.A., University of California at Berkeley, M.A. Slavic Language and Literatures, UMass Amherst, MFA Creative Writing- Poetry

Why Amherst?

I visited, and it just felt like home to me.

Most memorable or most influential class at Amherst?

Like many other students, I would say Stanley Rabinowitz’s Survey of Russian Literature, Russian 22, in which he revealed he had photographic recall of the incoming freshman class (including their place of birth, name of high school, siblings, etc.), often imitated Eudora Welty, and memorably embarrassed chronically late students. This course was not only notable for obvious reasons, but also began my lifelong interest in and study of Russian language and literature, for which I am eternally grateful.

Most memorable or most influential professor?

See above. I am so grateful also to have studied with Jane and Bill Taubman, David Sofield, Stephanie Sandler, Janet Gyatso, Dale Peterson, the late great William Kennick, and so many other brilliant minds.

Research Interests?

Etymology, philology, ursology (not urology), electricity, the lyrics of Robyn Hitchcock, methods of avoiding social media.

Favorite Book?

Le Grand Meaulnes, aka The Lost Domain, by Alain-Fournier

Favorite Author?

Impossible to say, maybe Frank O’Hara, Emily Dickinson, Robert Desnos or James Schuyler? Right now I am greatly enjoying the short novels of Cesar Aira.

Tips for aspiring writers?


Matthew Zapruder is the author of four collections of poetry, as well as Why Poetry, a book of prose, from Ecco Press in August 2017. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a William Carlos Williams Award, a May Sarton Award from the Academy of American Arts and Sciences, and a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship in Marfa, TX. An Associate Professor in the MFA at Saint Mary’s College of California, he is also Editor at Large at Wave Books, and from 2016-7 held the annually rotating position of Editor of the Poetry Column for the New York Times Magazine. He lives in Oakland, CA.

Learn more about Why Poetry on Matthew's website.


Photo credit: B.A. Van Sise