Poet Russell Edson Dies at 79
May 19, 2014
Distinguished poet Russell Edson died at Stamford Hospital in Connecticut on April 29 due to a long illness. Best known as “the godfather of the prose poem in America,” he was born in New York on December 12, 1928. His notable poetry collections, marked for their humor and perhaps cartoonish surrealism, include The Tunnel: Selected Poems, See Jack, and The Rooster’s Wife. Donald Hall said of Edson’s poetry, “It’s fanciful, it’s even funny—but his humor carries discomfort with it, like all serious humor.”
When interviewed by Mark Tursi, Edson said, “My job as a writer is mainly to edit the creative rush. The dream brain is the creative engine… I sit down to write with a blank page and a blank mind. Wherever the organ of reality (the brain) wants to go I follow with a blue-pencil of consciousness.”
Edson studied art as a teenager and began publishing poetry in the 1960s. He received Guggenheim Foundation and National Endowment of the Arts fellowships. He was nationally recognized and his work was widely anthologized. Russell Edson was the son of cartoonist and creator of Art Gump, Gus Edson. He lived in Stamford and Darien, Connecticut and is survived by his wife Frances. Some of his work can be found online by visiting webdelsol.