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Geographer's Wife


Geographer's Wife

(Red Hen Press, 2012, 120pp. ISBN: 978-1-59709-169-5)


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The Geographer’s Wife

Memorial Ride

The Contiguous 48

Raggedy Ann

Forever Spinning

Girls Like Linka

The Daily News


First Kiss


Pretty Bird



Start Here


Writer’s Block

One Too Many Husbands


The New Math


The Church of Dislocation

Romantic Bones



The Almighty Plate

Prairie Dance

Colonel Sanders (And the Gospel of Love)

Tombstone Territory

South of the Border

The Wrong Side of Tomorrow

Love is a Lumberjack with Wings

This Time of Year

The Gravity of Silence


The Current of Desolation

Topographical Error

Lost Dog


The Deep South

West of the Mississippi

Frame by Frame



Takin’ Stock

Sex Me

Neon Nights

Out of My Life

I Read My Mother to Sleep

Under Construction

Go, Prepare, Surrender

The Happiest Man Alive



The Geographer’s Wife

Girls Like Linka

The Wrong Side of Tomorrow





The Geographer’s Wife explores how our sense of environment frames the world we create for ourselves.  The speakers in the various poems perpetually find themselves in conflict with the space around them.  The choices they make may free them to discover a life full of promise, cast them into uncertainty, and often condemn them to regression, depending upon the circumstance.  Again and again, the landscapes they visit serve as both boundary and horizon.  This concept of place—east, west, north, and south—directs the physical and spiritual movements we take for granted, as we pass through the days and nights that dictate our journeys ahead.

The poems in this most recent collection were composed between 2005 and 2011—quite a long stretch for me.  Why was all this time needed?  Perhaps, like so many of the narrators in The Geographer’s Wife, I was attempting to find my own voice, and, for quite a while, I didn’t particularly like what I heard.  Once I uncovered the thematic balance that led me to divide the book into its four distinct geographical sections there was the direction I lacked in the early stages of writing the poems.  With a greater, more detailed lens and a wider sense of place that existed on an unconscious level, this new focus afforded the book and the upcoming poems the scope I believe it previously lacked. So, too, did other voices I hadn’t heard before speak out from more corners and states I’m not sure existed previously—united or not.  And it’s these distinct speakers, across the entire country, who clamor to be understood through the book’s pages in poems connected by whatever fate awaits each of them.

Poems such as “Goners,” “Tombstone Territory,” “The Almighty Plate,” “Despair,” “The Current of Desolation,” ‘The Wrong Side of Tomorrow,” and “Breakdown” chronicle the never-ending pursuit we endure to heal wounds whose destiny we cannot escape.  Yet, other selections like “Forever Spinning,” “First Kiss,” “Decisions,” “The Deep South,” “Go, Prepare, Surrender,” and  “Latitude/Longitude” provide a balm—a notion of comfort that keeps us clearly connected to the challenge we face if we, indeed, take that crucial step towards hope, even when the odds seem stacked against us.  It is this nature of courage which keeps us forward bound.

Here, then, is why so many of the speakers’ plights converge, no matter where they may appear on the map before us.  This utter desire to seek out comfort and sorrow’s sister, solace—wherever it can be found, in whatever form it takes—provides the background, the eventual landscape for each geographer: wife, husband, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, friend, stranger.  Call it topography, climate, region, or territory; however, we all live there and call it home.



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“The way magnetism draws the needle of a compass, yearning pulls the poems in this collection through the cardinal directions of a world in which time is not linear but circular, cyclical. Hunger draws lost loved ones to the table, calls lovers away from home and onto the open road. A peculiarly American manifest destiny directs Colonel Sanders to proselytize chicken trinity to the streets, while Raggedy Ann rips her stockings and aches for danger. Quirky characters, popular culture, and memory align here in a topography at once hilarious and haunting. Bart Edelman’s The Geographer’s Wife orients the reader in the body as a map of desire, where the individual life becomes a locus of its own, a point from which the world demarcates itself.”
—Amy Sage Webb, editor, Flint Hills Review


“Bart Edelman’s sixth book, The Geographer’s Wife, is chock-full of stunning, stand-out poems. In ‘Holiday,’ the poet explores the soulful textures of loss present in the first Mother’s Day after his mother has passed. In another, the poet compares modern dating to ‘The New Math,’ a system that has changed so profoundly as to make the addition of romance nearly impossible. In this collection, Bart Edelman is single-minded in his purpose. He takes in the popular language of America—East, North, South, and West—and creates buoyant melodies of ‘coolness,’ a popular verbal chill that also diagnoses our deepest troubles—contemporary isolation and a profound longing for love.”
—Todd James Pierce, author of Newsworld, winner ofthe Drue Heinz Literary Prize

“Bart Edelman understands how words should taste, how sounds strung with precision can create a universe of meaning far beyond denotation. These poems are etched into mirrors—transparent, but with surprises built to stand up through reading after reading. You will see your reflection smiling back in recognition on every page. With a cast of characters ranging from acrobats on speed to lumberjacks with wings, The Geographer’s Wife is an accomplished collection.”
—Tom Chandler, Poet Laureate of Rhode Island emeritus


“I fell in love on first reading The Geographer’s Wife. It promises and delivers—such riches to follow. Then I met Uncle Irv from ‘The Contiguous 48’ and was taken, forever. In this wonderful and wide-ranging collection of poems, Bart Edelman charts the elusive latitudes and longitudes of desire. With antic humor and often rueful insight, he takes the reader on an emotional journey through time and space. So leave your suitcase and your fears behind, pick up your compass and open the door. Adventure awaits!”
—Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey, author of A Woman of Independent Means