A baby that keeps losing its brain, a cow in a wedding gown, a woman whose chest is a radio — bizarre and whimsical figures populate this collection of dreamlike prose poems from Russell Edson (1935-2014), with a Foreword by Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Simic.
A seminal voice in American prose poetry from the sixties onward, Edson’s whole career is surveyed in a single volume edited for our times, presenting a new and contemporary view of a poet of startling imagination and strangeness. Craig Morgan Teicher calls us to witness Edson’s obsessions with the curious, the absurd, and the peculiar, and the ways in which they can haunt our daily lives. The prose poems in this collection mold our everyday into something extraordinary and unsettling.
Edson’s poems are surreal fables in which his characters experience all that life throws at them— marriage, parenthood, technological advances, aging, dying, the afterlife— through irreverent dialogue and vivid imagery in turns both humorous and grotesque. Russell Edson is a vital and ever-contemporary poet with a unique moral and comedic vision, whose literary career quietly yet definitively shaped the prose poetry subgenre as we know it now.
“Anyone who was fortunate to hear Edson read his poems is not likely to have forgotten the experience. He made his audiences roar with laughter or sit astonished at what they were hearing…the real surprise comes when we realize that despite all the joking we are reading or listening to, these are not the scribblings of a village idiot, but of a comic genius and a serious thinker.”— Charles Simic, from The Foreword
“Edson’s poems are deranged, oracular, logical, ecstatic, pellucid, desperate, filthy, fathomless, and deceptively simple. When I gave a reading with Edson in 2003 I said, ‘Tonight I am reading with one of my greatest heroes.’ He’s still here with me, always, like a god.”— Sarah Manguso, author of 300 Arguments
“Edson permitted himself to have it both ways, to write prose that reverses — each of his sentences simultaneously urges the reader forward into the action of Edson’s stories in miniature and also pulls the reader backward. Musical language, artfully loaded words, subtle twists in the plot, and all sorts of meaningful misdirections in Edson’s work demand that we reread, that we never quite finish reading any of these poems, which are ever in the midst of revising themselves.”— Craig Morgan Teicher, from The Afterword