Ugly Duckling Presse 2013
Joshua Edwards‘ new book and its title, Imperial Nostalgias (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2013), hint at a yearning for a lost world all of us helped to destroy or at the very least forgot. While tipping his hat to the social sciences throughout the book, Imperial Nostalgias is cunningly personal: each page is an intimate window to look out of, a window to take siesta in, a window to shout from, to lean beyond, but never a window to leap from because the poems don’t harass the reader into annihilation. Instead, they are oddly charming and innocent, perhaps a counter-force to what his eye must behold. Most of his poems are like games of tag between imagery and aphorism, between abstraction and the concrete, and this is the direct result of a person devoted to travel, which Imperial Nostalgias seems a direct result of.
In fact, when I finished the book, I felt like I hadn’t talked to another person in weeks, as if sitting on a cross-country train ride as the subjects of his poems flashed by: the historical – literary and otherwise – until that moment at dusk when the landscape darkened into the candor of personal meditation. The poet’s voice reflects the plain vernacular of talking to oneself, that most humble act, while simultaneously making the same voice sound as if it desires to be heard by all. Imperial Nostalgias is the labor of a frenzied (but measured) poet and the book reflects this in its restless pursuits: not only do we discover poetry in the book, but strange photographs and severe fragments of language that also accompany us on our reading journey. And not only are these vagrant busy pieces made strange by being collected as one, but the book itself – this bounded object – worked equally strange on me as a reader: because of its modest size I found myself preferring to carry the book in my back pocket and since inside the book several empty panels of white space exist, I found myself drawing and writing inside Imperial Nostagias, and by doing so the book became an amicable traveling companion. It is in this experience when I discovered Joshua Edwards’ generosity as an artist. While his work made solitude palpable for me, at some mysterious point I discovered the poet was with me the entire time I thought I was alone. During our discussion we talk about the relationship between travel and poetry, the genesis of his latest book, the conundrum of being both American and a poet, and so much more. I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did.