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Charles Simic Remembers Bill Knott and Russell Edson at NYRB
Two poets, Russell Edson (1935–2014) and Bill Knott (1940–2014), both of whom I was friendly with and whose poetry was very important to me, died this spring, each one leaving behind many original and memorable poems and many devoted readers, despite keeping their distance from our literary scene. Anyone who was fortunate enough to hear them read their poems over the last forty-five years is not likely to have forgotten the experience. Edson made his audiences roar with laughter or sit in shock at what they were hearing, while Knott always had some eccentric stunt to mystify and delight them, like the time he walked out on stage at the Guggenheim Museum carrying a brown paper bag, from which he’d extract a poem written on small notebook paper, hold it up to the light, read a few marvelous lines of poetry and then stop, telling the people this poem is complete shit—and then go through the same routine again and again before deigning to read an entire poem. [...]
This year sure has been a doozy. Learn more about Knott and Edson and read more of Simic’s recollections at NYRB.