Thursday 7 February 2008

AWP Day 1 addendum--the tribute to Russell Edson

I forgot to relate one of my favourite events of the AWP--the tribute to Russell Edson, generally regarded as America's foremost prose poet. The audience numbered two hundred (I'm guessing), and Charles Simic, Robert Bly, and James Tate all spoke of their introduction to and appreciation of Edson's work. Then Edson read--and read. He asked when the event was supposed to end and kept asking how long he had left; he was simply going to fill the time. What made it drag the more was that Bly began and continued to encourage applause after every individual piece. Some of the poems Edson read were: "The Philosophers," "The Way Things Are," "The Dog's Dinner," "A Large Thing," "Vignette," "The Wound," "The Shop," "The Family Monkey," "Things," "The Hemorrhoid Epidemic," "On the Eating of Mice," "A Fall," "Ape," "The Tunnel," "Balls," "A Secret Graveyard," "A Song of Likelihoods," and "Monkey Gas." It was a delight to hear Edson's well-paced, deadpan readings; hopefully there are various recordings of his readings, for posterity.

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