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« Cry Hard, Cry Fast: Ken Tucker Takes on John D. Macdonald | Main | "Next Line, Please": Five Glorious Years [by David Lehman] »

February 12, 2020


"I write to amuse myself, not to change others. Socially angry poems, anti-war poems; poems that are meant to DO things violate the creative spirit."

I've been a huge Edson fan for many years, love him, and can't believe, either, that no library has bought up his stuff. WTF?

But the above quote in the first letter seems way over the top, even to the point of sounding like someone (one of his apes?) speaking or screaming in one of his prose poems.

Let me offer just one example (don't get me started on more) that might suggest Edson was possibly pulling Peter Johnson's leg a bit--or at least I hope he was:

Does Cesar Vallejo's Spain, Sever this Chalice from Me "violate the creative spirit"? And if so, does that mean Vallejo ultimately wrote that book to "amuse" himself?

Lots in that letter that is wonderful to behold, but that passage should def be discussed a bit by his future critics and biographer[s].

An overstatement in support of artistic liberty -- always an unpopular ideal, subject to the pressures of the political moment -- is something that doesn't demand to be examined as if it were testimony in a court of law, with bible and sworn vow. -- DL

I corresponded with Edson for about 12 years. I still have his letters and treasure them. We discussed music a lot, particularly about turning his 2-act play "Ketchup" into a musical theatre piece. . . which I did.

Hello from Wales, UK. I need to contact the Russell Edson Estate for permission to include one of his poems in a conference paper - could you pout me in the right direction? I cannot find a lead - an e-mail address? many thanks

Thank you for your query. Consider writing to Peter Johnson:

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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