A Retrospective Selected by the Magus of Boston Poets
Over the course of Ed Barrett’s career he has manifested the prose poem as a vehicle to discover unselfconscious patterns of language and thought that arise in recurring patterns as fluid and pliant as stalks of kelp beneath where the Atlantic meets the shores of Ireland to patterns as sustaining as rebar in the structures of Boston’s Big Dig.
In many ways, Barrett’s work builds on itself—an archipelago of poems stretching out into the ocean, ordered outside time, place (or places—inner as well as outer). He creates a foundational geology of thought and feeling that ultimately falls to what he can share and what he sees.
The prose poems cover the extent of Barrett’s oeuvre and end with two new sequences—“Blow-in Addresses” and “Viking Renga”. These pieces culminate in portraying a collaboration with one another, a kind of interrogation of the universe and a marveling at this tenuous, brief life we all occupy at this moment.
This selection reflects the “gathering in” of a Brooklyn-bred, Boston-fired poet fully grounded in his Irish roots.
“Barrett’s work provides a distinctive tone across [his] works [and] gives them an accessibility anchored in the narrator’s character, a compound of wry appraisal, elegiac stoicism, satiric humor and amazement--it’s the language of an outsider, but not a stranger.”—David Rivard, The American Poetry Review
Ed Barrett was born in Brooklyn, New York, and educated at Brooklyn College and Harvard University where he studied English Literature, Greek and Irish. His family home is in Dunquin, County Kerry, Ireland. He resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at MIT, where his research, teaching and publications focus on poetry and digital media. His poetry books: include THE SINATRA N (Pressed Wafer, 2016); TOWARD BLUE PENINSULA (Pressed Wafer, 2014); DOWN NEW UTRECHT AVENUE (Pressed Wafer, 2011); BOSSTON (Pressed Wafer, 2008); KEVIN WHITE (Pressed Wafer, 2007); Or Current Resident (2005); RUB OUT -THREE VERSE NOVELS (Pressed Wafer, 2003); Sheepshead Bay (Zoland Books, 2001); Breezy Point (Pressed Wafer, 2000); Practical Lullabies for Joe (1999); Common Preludes (1994); The Leaves Are Something This Year (1992); Theory of Transportation (1990); and 7x3 (1987). Other work include Antigone (translated from the Greek; produced Off-Broadway, 1982) and an opera libretto, Shaman (text translated from Navajo; premier, Manhattan Chamber Opera Company, NYC 1987).