Sunday, July 5, 2009
Is Russell Edson Great or Just Popular??
Johannes Goransson ponders Russell Edson, pale in the light of Michaux (and more interesting places the prose poem can go. Black Ocean, etc,--- thanks, Johannes).
To read what Johannes (that's my dad's name too) has to say go here
So what's right about Russell Edson?
Well, I do think he wrote many great poems. Especially when he combined the strange with the lyrical. Some of the poems are tender and "deep." Not just bizarre ape story poems.
What's wrong about Russell Edson?
Distinctive poets often have a very bad influence on their followers. Most Edson disciples write lesser and paler versions of Edson's best poems (and perhaps we can count later career Edson among those disciples.) And you can spot these Edson-derivative poems a mile away. If you've read one you've read them all.
I think the best think re Edson is to buy his Collected. Read some of the middle third and then put the book away for a long time. Perhaps even then, for better or for worse, the ape will find its way into your thoughts and poems.