The Academic Sigh

By Russell Edson 1935–2014 Russell Edson
Some students were stretching a professor on a medieval torture rack. He had offered himself to show them how an academic might be stretched beyond his wildest dreams like a piece of chewing gum.
         And as they turned the wheel the professor was getting longer and longer.
         Don’t make me too long, or I’ll look kind of goofy, sighed the professor as he grew longer and longer.

         Suddenly something snaps.
         What happened? sighs the professor from the rack.
         We were just stretching an academic when suddenly something snapped; you may have heard it ...
         Yes, I was there. Don’t you remember? sighs the professor.
         And then we heard an academic sigh ...
         Yes, I heard it, too, sighs the professor, it seemed to come from the rack where I was being stretched beyond my wildest dreams like a piece of chewing gum ...

“The Academic Sigh” from The Tormented Mirror: Poems by Russell Edson © 2001. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Source: The Tormented Mirror (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001)

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Poet Russell Edson 1935–2014

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects School & Learning, Nature, The Body, Activities

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

 Russell  Edson


Called the “godfather of the prose poem in America,” Russell Edson’s idiosyncratic body of work is populated with strange and intriguing figures: a woman fights a tree, a mother serves ape; in the poem “Let Us Consider,” there’s a “farmer who makes his straw hat his sweetheart” and an “old woman who makes a floor lamp her son.” The poems are surreal and fablelike, sometimes resembling brief plays. Donald Hall said of Edson’s . . .

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SUBJECT School & Learning, Nature, The Body, Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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