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Edwin Denby reads from Snoring in New York

Snoring in New York was published by Angel Hair in 1974 with a beautiful photo by Rudy Burckhardt on both the front and back covers, dark leaves, white moth. From 1976 until Edwin’s death in 1983, Rudy Burckhardt’s son Jacob recorded Edwin reading his poems. Snoring in New York doesn’t have page numbers, which I like in a poetry book, and none of the nine poems Edwin reads are titled. They are the poems of a man getting older, old, commas, but no periods, observant, wise and quiet. Although some of them have thirteen lines and some have fourteen, I would call them sonnets. Here are the last four lines in the first poem Edwin reads:

Telephone rings, speaks, I hang up
Cat-heart that knew me gone, I cried
It stopped beating drugged in a cage
Dear, mine will too, and let go rage

Here are the last two lines in the fourth:

When he’s painted himself out of it
DeKooning says his picture’s finished

Dante Gabriel Rossetti said

A Sonnet is a moment’s monument,–
Memorial from the Soul’s eternity
To one dead deathless hour…

Edwin hits that particular nail on the head.

When Edwin reads, these poems are pretty much as they are on the page although he does add the article, the, so that The kind reproof, kind reproof becomes The kind reproof, the kind reproof and Chainsaw in woods becomes Chainsaw in the woods, not really important I know, but as I am constantly editing poems myself, I think a poem is never over until the poet at long last passes on to that place where no more editing is needed; it is done. There are two errata too, though only one worth mentioning. In the final poem, in the twelfth line, the printed Noons Tom sleeps Edwin reads Noon Tom sleeps.



born in my loft dance untamed


slight man walking 2


3 writing poems and employee


alex katz 4


slight pr tiny son 5


the grand republic 6


7 grey blue ridge


8 disorder mental strikes me


9 drought


back cover


Edwin Denby, 1937. Rudy Burckhardt
Edwin Denby, 1937. Photo by Rudy Burckhardt.

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