(Prometheus Press, 1993, 64pp. ISBN: 0-9626168-4-2)
Crossing the Hackensack
The Harper Returns
You Cannot Kill Me
A Solitary Apple
They Shot Wook Kim
This Much I Know
In Awe of Elms
Christ Came Crawling Into Church Today
A Good Day to Die
I Hurled You Down the Ravine Today
The Return of Johnny Panic
Just Like You
Ghost in My House
Elegy For Holly
How To Love Her
The Poetry of Hate
En Route Through the North of Africa
My Old Man
The Harper Returns
Crossing the Hackensack was a long time coming, both in terms of the chronology of the book and the subject matter. Any writer’s first book is often difficult to gauge, regarding its starting point, but certainly a majority of the poems were written in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The book appeared after I was fortunate enough to perform a series of readings in Los Angeles in 1991 and 1992. With the support of Robert Odom (Hakim), my first publisher, and Lee Mallory, my initial editor, Prometheus Press issued Crossing the Hackensack in 1993.
The travel vision and scope are key aspects of the entire work. The lone oarsmen on the cover and the book’s title attest to the continued aspect of growth for the various narrators in the poems, and this writer, as well.
Many individual poems, such as the title poem and “Passages,” detail references to the east to west journey so inherent in the selections that bookend the volume.
Whether it’s the road, the air, or the river, journeys frame the work and the eventual completion of youth’s quest for growth – in all ways possible.
Reviewing the book now from the poet’s perspective – in or out of the canoe – reminds me just how important it is to allow a sense of distance when we realize where we’ve been, where we’re going, and the prospect of what waits ahead. Is it any wonder that childhood – and its early experiences – form the basis for our adult interactions, and family, education, and environment set us up for what follows through life’s channels, one slow stroke at a time. Poems such as “A Solitary Apple,” “This Much I Know,” “At Forty,” “In Awe of Elms,” and “Asylum” illustrate how we literally and symbolically navigate difficult waters when we embark on the dangerous passages we face each day.
If a first book portends or charts a poet’s early attempt to make sense of this journey, its wanderlust, and the curiosity of the trip, then this one is, certainly, mine.
“Edelman has written movingly about the cultural and emotional limbo of living abroad.”
—Susan Heeger, Los Angeles Times
“Edelman’s absorbing collection is filled with recognizable ironies, passions
and personal moments that reconcile us to the fact that life is a contradictory
journey toward hope.”
—Jo Ray McCuen,Readings for Writers
“Edelman bridges the two worlds of scholarly poetry and the oral traditions
of street poetry to create a rich work of art which touches the reader on many
levels. His poetry appeals not only to the intellect but also to the emotions.”
—Michael Logue, Steel and Ivy, Chapman University