Bart Edelman’s latest poetry collection,The Geographer’s Wife, explores how our sense of environment creates and frames the world we choose to inhabit. The speakers in Edelman’s poems perpetually find themselves in conflict with the world around them. The choices they make sometimes free them to discover a life full of promise, sometimes cast them into uncertainty, and sometimes condemn them to regression. Again and again, the landscapes they visit serve as both boundary and horizon. This sense of place—east, west, north, and south—directs the physical and spiritual movements we often take for granted, as we pass through the days and nights that dictate each one of our journeys.
The Last Mojito by Bart Edelman
Publication Date: 2005-08-01
The poems in The Last Mojito were written between 2000 and 2004. The six distinct sections of the bookthe ingredients of the infamous mojito (mint, sugar, lime, rum, ice, and club soda)were chosen, initially, to impart a rather playful frame to the collections content. Quite a few of the poems, of course, reveal the presence of alcohol. In almost all cases, more often than not, the mere mention of spirits or booze is employed as a continual theme, helping to open up friendships or any relationships in a way that bring the narrators closer towards a supposed set of insights gained from a glass thats no longer filled with what might pass for liquid truth. Individual poems such as Enough, Pub Crawl, Forbidden City, Story of His Life, and I Killed the Poet, explore both probable and improbable situations the speakers face on the road to self-discovery.
The Gentle Man by Bart Edelman
Publication Date: 2002-02-01
The poems in The Gentle Man were composed between 1999 and 2001. The title poem speaks to those of us who seek to simplify our lives by enriching what it is we give to others, especially what we offer them in kindness and devotion. If the very act of love is patient and wise, then those who are fortunate enough to receive it are blessed by its gift and know, quite naturally, what to offer in return.
And yet, when that love somehow cannot be met through blindness, happenstance, history, remorse, or sorrow, we are habitually haunted by past apparitions who remind us that our need for affection, and a place called home, is an inclination not easily forgotten. Be they “Broken Heats,” “Photograph (circa 1960),” “Your Father’s Ghost,” “Last Request,” or “Locomotive to Hell,” these poems address what it means to constantly search for meaning both inside and outside of ourselves—to travel down tracks in an attempt to discover or rediscover our identity. By doing so, we examine what went wrong in our testament to friendship and love and how we can still approach the longing and desire that resides in each of us, applying for “Forgiveness” as a starting point.
If by the mere act of consequence, we can keep the solemn prayer alive—this striving for peace through reconciliation, then we ultimately retain a chance at the relief that so often escapes us and keeps us at bay with ourselves along the dangerous curves we face. Perhaps, then, “The Cost of Being Me” will not be so great, the sacrifice so difficult to bear, as we turn the bedcovers down and read the next page of the book we continue to write, night after night after night. And in the end, hopefully, certainly mercifully, we come to understand that “The Gentle Man” and what he entails is all we’ve ever wished to know—and become.
Alphabet of Love by Bart Edelman
Publication Date: 1999-01-01
This selection and its somewhat haphazard direction of how so many of us interact romantically—on the surface—is a gentle reminder that be it fate, chance, or will, we appear destined to carry out our mission to couple and partner, no matter what the cause or effect. If we truly desire companionship, at all cost, there is probably someone out there seeking the same measure—for better or worse. Whether it is simply ourselves, or the likes of Nathanael West (“Day of the Locus”), Amadeus Mozart (“The Dogs of Amadeus”), Mark Twain (“Mark Twain’s Cigar”), Natalie Wood (“The Late Natalie Wood”), or the poor children who haunt the camps at Terezin and Auschwitz (“ Little Ghosts”), we are all in need of the dose of kindness that love’s dispensary provides if we are fortunate enough to find it, hidden or not, among us.
Whether or not a higher power is at work to guide us and grant us “The Word,” or we are determined to discover a path towards salvation through the generous acts of others—or ourselves—we follow an unconscious path, at times, and seek refuge, where possible, in places and locations we might have never imagined to investigate and bear witness. It may be upon “The Road to Jerusalem,” aboard “The New Train,” or in “The Terminal of Grief,” yet we still search for solace and speak the only common language we understand, this pursuit of love we may even try to escape—but never deny.