It’s a scientific fact that anyone entering the distance will grow smaller.
October 11, 2008 9:57 AM   Subscribe

A man ambushed a stone. Caught it. Made it a prisoner.
Put it in a dark room and stood guard over it for the
rest of his life.

Russell Edson is an American poet. More of his work here (beware popups). An appreciation.
posted by generalist (12 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Ah, my favorite poet.

Angels with skulls full of pubic hair…what could be better.
posted by sonascope at 10:06 AM on October 11, 2008

sort of like my old pet rock i think...
posted by billybobtoo at 10:08 AM on October 11, 2008

Didn't know his work, thank you for this.

ooh, such a Buddhist concept, the illusory nature of knowing and memory:

Of Memory and Distance

It’s a scientific fact that anyone entering the distance will grow smaller. Eventually becoming so small he might only be found with a telescope, or, for more intimacy, with a microscope…

But there’s a vanishing point, where anyone having penetrated the distance must disappear entirely without hope of his ever returning, leaving only a memory of his ever having been.

But then there is fiction, so that one is never really sure if it was someone who vanished into the end of seeing, or someone made of paper and ink…


I like this one of his too:
And so the man stumbled away into another series of indiscretions...


A stone is nobody's, not even its own. It is you who are
conquered; you are minding the prisoner, which is yourself,
because you are afraid to go out, she said.

Yes yes, I am afraid, because you have never loved me,
he said.

Which is true, because you have always been to me as
the stone is to you, she said.



He had a rock; Charles Bukowski had a Bluebird.
posted by nickyskye at 10:50 AM on October 11, 2008

I tried his Historical Breakfast it was tasty. I love poets like this the ones that confound the expectations of the poet reader who is searching for some overwrought piece dripping with endless sentiment. Sad and poignant poetry is not the only kind there is nor in my opinion is it the most palatable kind.

P.S. Lately I've been thinking about poetry and the arts and I think people miss the point of the arts. It is for you as an ordinary person to play to enrich your life. You watch those who are great to inspire yourself to be, better. Again its not that the thoughts are truly profound or unthought its that their mine and I look to the thoughts of others to inspire me to consider further.
posted by Rubbstone at 11:14 AM on October 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

I frickin' love Russell Edson.

Whenever I have one of those stoner-y conversations about how great poetry is, I'm fond of pointing out that even Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy is *real* poetry despite being a spoof of poetry and that it even has a "legit" precursor in the work of Russell Edson.

Fun name dropping: I took many classes with Charles Simic while an English major at the University of New Hampshire and he loved Russell Edson too.
posted by Toecutter at 11:29 AM on October 11, 2008

Never heard of Edson before, thanks. Much awesome.
posted by luftmensch at 11:58 AM on October 11, 2008

I can't say I have ever had much interest in poetry, but these are great. Erasing Amyloo is especially sad and poignant in a way I can't describe. Thanks for the post!
posted by bristolcat at 12:08 PM on October 11, 2008

Edson was definitely one of my favorite poets for a while. It's hard to pick favorites among his poems since there are so many I like, but The Taxi hasn't been linked above, so there you go. He caused me to subscribe to The Prose Poem: An International Journal, which had some interesting work in it but largely just showed how difficult it is to write prose poetry and made Edson look all the better in comparison.

The essay / manifesto mentioned at the end of the Believer article, Portrait of the Artist as a Fat Man, was published in Donald Hall's excellent anthology Claims for Poetry and is available online thanks to Google Books. It's worth a read.
posted by whir at 12:12 PM on October 11, 2008

Toecutter, me too! I love Edson.
posted by luckypozzo at 12:49 PM on October 11, 2008

I, too, love Edson's work. Here is my favorite.


This is the house of the closet-man. There are no rooms, just hallways and closets.
Things happen in rooms. He does not like things to happen. . . . Closets, you take things out of closets, you put things into closets, and nothing happens . . .

Why do you have such a strange house?

I am the closet-man, I am either going or coming, and I am never sad.

But why do you have such a strange house?

I am never sad . . .
posted by winna at 3:20 PM on October 11, 2008

Very cool. Have never read any of his work but will definitely be checking out more. Thanks for this!
posted by scarello at 4:52 PM on October 11, 2008

thanks, whir, that essay is a good find.
posted by generalist at 12:09 PM on October 12, 2008

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