A Web Del Sol Featured Prose Poet

Russell Edson

Mr Brain was a hermit dwarf who liked to eat
shellfish off the moon. He liked to go into a tree
then because there is a little height to see a
little further, which may reveal now the stone, a
pebble--it is a twig, it is nothing under the moon
that you can make sure of.

So Mr Brain opened his mouth to let a moonbeam into his head.

Art by Stephen Eiring

Russell Edson was born in Connecticut in 1935 and currently resides there with his wife Frances. Edson, who jokingly has called himself "Little Mr. Prose Poem," is inarguably the foremost writer of prose poetry in America, having written exclusively in that form before it became fashionable. In a forthcoming study of the American prose poem, Michel Delville suggests that one of Edson's typical "recipes" for his prose poems involves a modern everyman who suddenly tumbles into an alternative reality in which he loses control over himself, sometimes to the point of being irremediably absorbed--both figuratively and literally--by his immediate and, most often, domestic everyday environment. . . . Constantly fusing and confusing the banal and the bizarre, Edson delights in having a seemingly innocuous situation undergo the most unlikely and uncanny metamorphoses. . . .

Reclusive by nature, Edson has still managed to publish eleven books of prose poems and one novel, The Song of Percival Peacock (available from Coffee House Press). All of the following poems included in this personal website collection, except for "Sleep," "Accidents," "The Death of a Fly," and "Balls," are from The Tunnel: Selected Poems (Field Editions, Oberlin College Press).

These poems were selected by Peter Johnson, editor of The Prose Poem: An International Journal.

A Work by Russell Edson:

The Wounded Breakfast

     A huge shoe mounts up from the horizon, squealing and grinding forward on small wheels, even as a man sitting to breakfast on his veranda is suddenly engulfed in a great shadow, almost the size of the night . . .
     He looks up and sees a huge shoe ponderously mounting out of the earth.
     Up in the unlaced ankle-part an old woman stands at a helm behind the great tongue curled forward; the thick laces dragging like ships' rope on the ground as the huge thing squeals and grinds forward; children everywhere, they look from the shoelace holes, they crowd about the old woman, even as she pilots this huge shoe over the earth . . .

     Soon the huge shoe is descending the opposite horizon, a monstrous snail squealing and grinding into the earth . . .

     The man turns to his breakfast again, but sees it's been wounded, the yolk of one of his eggs is bleeding . . .

Selections from Russell Edson's work:

The Bridge

The Reason Why
the Closet Man
Is Never Sad

The Changeling

Mr. Brain


The Tunnel


A Historical Breakfast

The Marionettes
of Distant

The Father of Toads

Paying the Captain

Erasing Amyloo


The Death of a Fly