Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Russell Edson

The Poetry Foundation calls Russell Edson the “godfather of the prose poem in America”.  His aim– as he himself explains in his essay “Portrait of the Writer as a Fat Man” is a 
“poetry freed from the definition of poetry, and a prose free of the necessity of fiction: a personal form disciplined not by other literature but by unhappiness, this a way to be happy.”
The result are surreal, fable-like texts, almost brief plays full of strangeness and playfulness. Donald Hall said of Edson’s poetry, “It’s fanciful, it’s even funny—but his humour carries discomfort with it, like all serious humour.”

You can read a few of this poems of the Poetry Foundation website:

In Hoover’s anthology you can find Edson’s “Conjugal”, “Ape”, “A Performance at Hog Theatre”, “The Toy Maker” and “The Optical Prodigal”.

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Conjugation / Beugung
After Russell Edson

A man is bending a verb. He is bending it around himself and around others. He is bending it around no one in particular, around his Jack Russell as he jumps to catch the ball.
He is dressing the world in rearranged syllables. He is busy with the Rubik’s cube.
The man is wrapping everything in paper. He is folding it carefully around himself and everyone he sees. He is placing things softly in the creases. He goes to buy string and stamps.

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