Robert Vas Dias, an Anglo-American born in London, is the author of seventeen poetry collections in the USA and UK, has edited or co-edited four literary journals two in the USA and two in the UK and is the editor-publisher of Permanent Press, which he founded in Michigan in 1972.
His first major collection, Speech Acts & Happenings, was published in the USA by Bobbs-Merrill in 1971, and his influential anthology, Inside Outer Space: New Poems of the Space Age, was published in 1970 by Doubleday Anchor Books in New York. He was founding director of the Aspen Writers' Workshop in Colorado, was Poet-in-Residence at Michigan's Thomas Jefferson College, where he founded and directed the National Poetry Festivals, and he coordinated two poetry reading series in New York City.His poetry and criticism have appeared in about 100 magazines and journals, including American Book Review, Chelsea, Choice, The Nation, The New Yorker, Partisan Review, and Poetry (Chicago) in the USA, and in the UK in Ambit, Encounter, Envoi, Leviathan Quarterly, Long Poem Magazine, Oasis, Poetry Review, Shearsman, Stand, Staple Magazine, Tears in the Fence, TLS, The Warwick Review, Wolf and other publications, as well as in over a dozen anthologies, most recently in This Line Is Not For Turning: An Anthology of Contemporary British Prose Poetry, 2011, edited by Jane Monson. Leaping Down to Earth, with images by Stephen Chambers and Tom Hammick, appeared in 2008, and a major selection of poetry of the last ten years, Still · Life and Other Poems of Art and Artifice, in 2010, Shearsman. His most recent collections are Black Book: An Assemblage of the Fragmentary, with Julia Farrer, Shearsman, 2016, and Poetics of Still life: A Collage, 2020, Permanent Press.
He has been awarded a Creative Artists Program Service (CAPS) Fellowship in Poetry (New York State Council on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts), and the C. Day Lewis Fellowship in Poetry administered by the Greater London Arts Association.
He taught for a number of years at Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York, at New York University, in both the undergraduate and graduate Writing Programs of Antioch University in London, and in the European Division of the University of Maryland. Also in the UK, he was General Secretary of The Poetry Society, 1975-78, and co-organised two conferences for Gresham College in London, "Sensing the Poem" in 1999, and "Verbal inter Visual" in 2001; he also co-curated the exhibition “Verbal inter Visual” for Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. He was a Core Tutor for The Poetry School in London, where he taught courses in poetry and visual art, American poetry, and experimental poetry; he continues to conduct seminars. He has been a consultant and contributor of entries for several editions of the American reference book Contemporary Poets.
Comments on Speech Acts & Happenings
“What I most liked was the very easygoing play of your intelligence into its serious concerns - and your attentive composition, responsive thru out to what the poem was saying in its saying. What means most to me is how at once humorous (alive to the humors of what was going on in the expression - re-creation - of feeling) and personally engaged you keep the poem”- Robert Duncan
“These poems of yours are real, brimming with life. The spirit that animates them knows how to dance.”- Stanley Kunitz
“'makes real more life than it loses' Jerry Rothenberg putting it well. 'Spouts life' he might have said, thinking of a fountain. A book to value.”
- George Oppen
“For Vas Dias is a modern poet in that he is a craftsman. The impact of his writing comes from that paring down, that edging, which is one mark of the 20th-century poet.”
- Linda W. Wagner
“A truly excellent book of wide-ranging work.”
- Lee Harwood
Comment on Making Faces
For those who have known Robert Vas Dias and his work for many years, a real occasion. This is a book of great subtlety and range, an exuberant, funny, touching, and frightening experience.
- Toby Olson
Comment on Time Exposures
“…a fine distillation of a mature poetic talent, one that is philosophical, enquiring and conversational.”
- Poetry Quarterly Review
Comment on The Guts of Shadows
“It's a compelling combination of word and image which I only wish we could see more often.”
- Helen Smithson
Comment on Leaping Down to Earth
“The visual-verbal interplay can be a fertile dialogue, and so it proves here… There is real depth here: perhaps most powerfully evident in 'Outside Your Kitchen Window', the final poem-image pairing in the book”
- Richard Aronowitz, The London Magazine
“Leaping Down to Earth… is a beautiful book to hold and absorb. The poems are fun, lively and vibrant as well as being thought-provoking and effortlessly draw the reader into the world of the poems.”
- David Caddy, Tears in the Fence
Comment on The Lascaux Variations: Fractals of Being
“John [Wright's] images are so perfectly in sync with the feel of the poetry, its moods of reflection and love, of questioning. And the structure, the separate but not separate leaves, the flow of the images and words leading to the poems - unifying but in a way I haven't seen before. The intelligence of the production has a completely different feel from the usual art/poetry book as beautiful artifact. One has the experience of completeness, of a thoroughness to the design, more than a fusion--hard to put into words the way it all seems to work together for me.”
- Michael Heller
“The images work very well with the words and it is a beautiful production.”
- Maggi Hambling
Comment on Arrivals & Departures: Prose Poems
“It is necessary reading for anyone following contemporary developments in the prose poem..”
- David Caddy