Russell Edson Gerrit Henry - Essay

Gerrit Henry

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Russell Edson's The Clam Theater is a volume of short prose poems, each of which very definitely has the quality of a "happy clam opening its shell" to reveal its delightfully hermetic inner workings. Edson's poems abound with puns, literary "sight gags", metaphors taken to their wildly illogical conclusions, and poem-within-a-poem architectures…. Every now and then, Edson's free-wheeling wit gets a little labored: "a funny thing happened to me on the way to the present." But at their best these prose poems are a happy marriage of French Surrealist techniques with a Marx Brothers-like insouciance and haplessness…. (pp. 295-96)

Gerrit Henry, in Poetry (© 1974 by The Modern Poetry Association; reprinted by permission of the Editor of Poetry), August, 1974.

Russell Edson has been shaking a bottle of cola some years now. With [The Intuitive Journey and Other Works] he lets the spray shoot out and cover the surrounding landscape, the consequences of his syntax active from the same source as Magritte's brush. The essential mystery of Edson's work is here so palpable, so tasty, there's no longer any hiding: his concerns, while idiosyncratic as ever, have increasingly become everyone's. Read this collection with delight and worry. (p. 58)

Virginia Quarterly Review (copyright, 1977, by the Virginia Quarterly Review, The University of Virginia), Vol. 53, No. 2 (Spring, 1977).