Thursday, September 26, 2013

Noir poetry from Les Edgerton at Bouchercon

Les Edgerton
Of all the parade of writers who read from their work at Bouchercon 2013's author's choice sessions, Les Edgerton was the only one who read a poem.  His choice was the shortest of any author's and, for me, hit the hardest, with a verbal punch to the gut that noir stories ought to have.

With kind permission from the author and from Blue Moon Literary and Art Review, where the piece first appeared, here is "My Father and Robert Frost":
   One day I found a volume of poetry by Robert Frost in the prison library at Pendleton and checked it out.
   Back in my cell, I read: Home is the place where, when you want to go there, they have to take you in.
   When I made parole, I called my mom to tell her my good news. I found out that my dad had never read Robert Frost.
   At least not that poem. 
© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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11 Comments:

Blogger Kelly Robinson said...

Oh, that's great. It works just fine on its own, but it would also make a great start for a story.

September 26, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That had not occurred to me, but you're right. The author says this is his only poem; he's written a mess of novels. So perhaps this set-up will find its way into a story.

An emotional kicker is that he says the poem is autobiographical.

September 26, 2013  
Anonymous Ben Sobieck said...

To be expected from the pen of Edgerton, the dark humorist. There's a feeling of chuckling malaise in his novels that can only be interpreted as "noir" in its most primitive form, that the universe is laughing at your inevitable fate. I think, deep down, Edgerton is laughing, too.

September 27, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"Chuckling malaise" is good. And the man does plenty of chuckling in person. So, my only recourse is to read some of his fiction, which I have not yet done.

September 27, 2013  
Blogger Les Edgerton said...

Thanks for repubbing this, Peter. This is a poem that means a lot to me. And, it is 100% autobiographical. I was severely abused by my father all my life--physically, emotionally, mentally--and when I made parole, he refused to let me return home. That made things kind of hard as you have to have a place to live before they'll release you. My sister came through for me. The kicker to all this is that two years ago, at the age of 68, I found out my "father" wasn't... I'd had suspicions and convinced one of my sisters to do a DNA test with me and found out we weren't related (my "father" and me). When confronted, my mother had no choice but to confess, but she still won't tell me who my real father is. Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed...

And, this is in some of my work. My memoir, ADRENALINE JUNKIE, is looking for a home and it's in there.

Thanks again, for publishing it and I'm delighted you liked it, sir.

September 27, 2013  
Blogger Dana King said...

Les's poem was a highlight for me at the conference, and without a doubt the single most powerful thing I heard read. It works on multiple levels.

September 27, 2013  
Blogger Les Edgerton said...

Thanks, everyone! I'm just stoked that you liked it!

September 27, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed..."

Les: That's another fine kicker of a line. Some people would have used a stronger word than days. Lives, maybe. All it does is make me want to read more.

September 27, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dana, at first I thought the poem could do without its last line. Then I decided that the line, by undercutting the powerful one that went before, suggests that life is more complicated than an explosive emotional conclusion. Now I quite like that last line.

September 27, 2013  
Blogger Dana King said...

Peter,
I have exactly the same reaction. kast week I thought the last line took away a little. Now that I've had a chance to think about it, and read it again here in its entirety, i agree with you: the last line makes it work even better.

September 27, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Right. That last line makes the father a potentially more interesting character.

September 27, 2013  

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