Monday, December 9, 2019

Notes From an Ill-Kept Journal

12.9.19   Winter Depression

It doesn’t take long to get grumpy when the days shorten, and the dark skies gather early in the afternoon, like crowds of unwanted guests. Trust me, I have raised “Getting Grumpy” to the top of my playlist for all-time memorable rock ballads. The nearest exit sign is three months away, and you’re wondering if you can make it through the next week. About two years ago I bought a small army of Runner Ducks to calm my soul, but it turns out they’re high maintenance in the best of times, and in the cold, damp Seattle Winter months, (the worst of times) it’s like work release on steroids. Sometimes small skirmishes expand into major wars, and letting this one slip, can be bewildering, if not perilous. Bur perhaps there’s one thing we can all agree on, that there’s got to be more to Winter, than winter depression. There is snow. There is home and hearth. Snowmen. The poetry of Robert Frost (and even others). But if poetry doesn’t work for you, try this: a little quiet observation, a little contemplation, a little gratitude. Observe the gentle fall of flakes or the torrents that restore the earth. Take some time to consider what it would be like to live on the equator. And be thankful you don’t. Getting more serious, perhaps this way of thinking can possibly lead one out from a frame of negativity into a world that mimics, if not actuates, the tension between surviving and surrendering.  If you’re like me, you’ll admit to needing both: a will to surmount difficulty, and the willingness to accept what doesn’t meet your narrow standard of tranquility. A starting place is to go into that room of despair, enter into that place you dread. See the shadowed silhouette of a leafless tree in the cold air, softened by moonlit and kindled in an unspoken beauty. See your squandering of time for what it might have been, not mourning its loss so much as providing you perspective and understanding.  Then, go out into the dark evening, renew it with light. See what happens.

Backyard in April

Praise for kingdoms in a spoonful of stagnant water,
universes hidden in the super-saturated air.

For this flooded grass, once a green cathedral 
of clover and bee, now flattened and brown.

For drowned slugs, beech leaves
floating over them, like unused life preservers.

Praise for the duck pool, brimming 
with brownish goo, I dip both hands into,

cupping palmfuls of water-bear and larvae,
unsung heroes, vacuuming the smothering algae.

Praise for disarray and transition, this familiar place 
run amuck, that doesn’t need me to succeed,

for ripples of hesitation waving through me,
as I embrace uncertainty and impermanence—

that my seasons in this place are limited,
accepting that struggles are sure to come.

Praise the gray hues, the granite and silica,
the unfiltered raw essence of newness,

and this dripping garden shed, gently slumping 
toward ruin, framed by a hemlock’s green lace.

  -In "Thin Places," forthcoming from Salmon Poetry


Friday, November 29, 2019

My Next Collection to be Published by Salmon Poetry

I wanted to say a few words about Salmon Poetry, who will be publishing my next collection, entitled, "Thin Places." This is a wonderful publisher, based in Ennistymon, on the West Coast of Ireland, a cozy town steeped in poetry, thanks to its founder and managing editor, Jessie Lendennie. A fabulous poet, and gifted administrator/producer of fine poetry books, Jessie has published over 600 books of poetry and prose, and has changed the landscape of poetry culture in Ireland.

For those of you who would like to be put on a mailing list to stay informed of recent developments in the production and distribution of "Thin Places," email me at: and I will keep you informed.


Edward Nudelman
November 29, 2019

Finalist in The Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest

I am humbled and honored to have two poems chosen as finalists in Atlanta Review’s International Poetry Contest, with the winner, and 22 other finalists. The poems are: "Thin Places," and "Thought Experiment," both of which appear in my next full-length poetry book, forthcoming from Salmon Poetry.  It’s a competitive contest, with over a thousand entrants, and the shortlist judged by the esteemed Dan Vera. The poems will all be published in their wonderful biannual Print Journal, appearing this Fall. Please help me congratulate the winner, Kurt Luchs, and the other finalists, shown below in their press release:  
Atlanta Review 2019 International Poetry Contest Winner Announced!
We are so excited to share that this year’s winner our annual International Poetry Contest is Kurt Luchs, for his poem “Suzie.”
This year’s judge was Dan Vera.
Kurt wins the $1000 prize, and his poem, along with the wonderful poems by the other Finalists, will appear in the fall issue. Congratulations to Kurt and to all of the Finalists! You make Atlanta Review awesome!
The Finalists:
• “Mexican Tongue,” JD Amick
• “[Letter of Love] to OjÄ«chan,” Aozora Brockman
• “Self Portrait with Rubble,” Sylvia Foley
• “A pledge to the dead requires no proof,” Jennifer Hollis
• “Corpse,” Dana Jaye
• “Meditation on a Trash Fire in My Backyard,” Robert J. Keeler
• “Quantum Heart,” Kathleen Kirk
• “Waiting for Mother’s Geraniums,” Pingmei Lan
• “One Intimate Morning,” Belle Ling
• “Nighttime in Jericho,” Jo-Ann Mort
• “Stones without People and the Art of the Mulberry,” Adele Ne Jame
• “Consumption of a Black Hole and Sweat Bees,” John Nieves
• “Thin Places,” Edward Nudelman
• “Thought Experiment,” Edward Nudelman

• “Apples, Crabapples,” David Rock
• “Sometimes, Briefly,” Kelly Rowe
• “Unscrolling,” Joan Roberta Ryan
• “Spring Freeze,” Joan Roberta Ryan
• “Dead Woman’s Hollow Road,” Nicole Santalucia
• “What White Lies Beneath,” Heidi Seaborn
• “Prelude to a Resurrection,” d.r. shipp
• “She Zuo Bin’s Rite of Spring,” Mary Spalding
• “Where We Call to Nest,” Felicia Zamora
• “Turbulence: Night Flight to Cairo,” Kristin Zime

Friday, June 7, 2019

My Poem Shortlisted by Passager in Their Annual Poetry Contest

I'm delighted to be notified that a poem of mine, "A Farmer and His Wife," has been selected by Passager Books and Journal for Honorable Mention in their annual Poetry Contest. The poem will be published along with the winning poem, and other selected shortlisted poems, in their September contest issue.

Poem Featured on Apple News

A recent poem of mine, "A Fleck of Golden Hair," was accepted by Poets and Artists, and featured on Apple News. The link is found here:

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Review of "Out of Time, Running"

“Out of Time, Running,” A Review, 
By Dale Cottingham

Out of Time, Running              
By Edward Nudelman
2014, Harbor Mountain Press

I’ll begin consideration of Out of Time, Running, Edward Nudelman’s second full-length poetry collection, with the title, because it’s emblematic of so much: time’s compression as it passes – or runs down to loss, and finally to death, which to the poet means solace, and much more.  Nudelman confronts us with the inexorable, with all its boilings and its burnings, caused by time’s unspooling. Yet he does not, in poem after poem, linger on grief or loss, a ready-made subject.  Rather, as we see from his first poem, which was nominated for a Pushcart award, “Melody of Complaint,” the failing clock leads not to chaos, but to the burning bush:

                                    Here is where I leave my wants
                                    and wills.  A stack of papers,
                                    a desk riddled with sheets
                                    and letters and numbers.
                                    Above the bookcase leaded
                                    with broken glass, tulips
                                    in a glass jar begging for light.
                                    Everything, as it were,
                                    begging for light. 

Keats articulated what we still feel, that we hate poetry which has a palpable design upon us – poetry which would enforces a design, its restrictive pattern and the decorative detail, at the expense of the poem’s project, which is evermore about to be. We envy the poet who can see things in the design, rather than the poet who can see the design in things. So, surely, we must envy Nudelman for having endured the burning, and emerged less burdened, simpler, freer. And having so loosed himself, promptly lifts his eyes to his enterprise, to locate himself in his surround, gladdened that I’m here, as we find throughout this book: “the same/ answer crystallizes, teasing out a gray/ moon to wash an unlit night“ (Biochemist in a Cold Room), “hearing the probability of sound” (Electron Spin), but also hearing “a lone voice/ crying in the wilderness, from a tiny ant straining under a load” (Greater Loss). But this is no chagrined tour of a struggle in dim light. We hear him buoyed by the pilgrimage, as he suggests in “Id-Ridden,” that he is unrecognizable to himself, “But perhaps it’s better that way,/ not knowing the real you.” 

In one of the most piercing, yet ephemeral, poems in the book, “Western Dream,” the poet describes a dream where the scene elongates through a dry season.  The speaker coaxes us to understand the need to observe in context, subsumed in unfiltered sunlight, so much so that “The sun rises boldly/ on your sunglasses/ ricocheting like a bullet.”  Of course, the poet strives to see in whatever light is allowed, and Nudelman turns to face the poem itself, to see it for what it is, a physical expression, “balancing on its good leg” (Poem That Stands On One Leaf).  For Nudelman this straight talk is a stay against the mechanical sublime, owing perhaps to his paying science career.  For if Nudelman writes of his career, the keen attention to detail, the lab, the tests, the recordations of what’s happened, he has journeyed through it and returned, and so it becomes both what he escapes from, and escapes to, in precisely the withdrawal and recurrence his poems suffer into existence. 

Nudelman offers a number of vignettes for the reader to enjoy: “Life of Riley,” “Kate’s Room,” and others, where he’s overwhelmed, listening, yet “Restless . . . in my fiftieth year of fasting and prayer” (Monk Inside).  Fasting, is a discipline that purifies, expels toxins, so that the poet and the poem distill to an essence, to prayer, and image that speaks to bearing through lean times, rather than dwelling loss. The poet has found value in humbling, that translates into a readiness to surrender. Consider “Longevity:”

                                    Take me then or take me now,
                                    before shade blights the lawn,
                                    before the old forest thins.

The poem is no longer merely the realm, but the means of self-encounter, plucking from the world the constituted terms of its being.  His discourse is identical to his experience, in such a way as to become a delta of living into everything. Such is the case for even sub-atomic particles, where, in sleep, the speaker’s eyes “dance in C minor/ and my ears hear the oak tree grow” (Subatomic Ramblings). His notion is that the world not only already contains the poem, but is the poem, that in order to write it, he does not draw the world into himself, but extrudes himself into the world.

Encountering the self is the ultimate exploration, both a reconnaissance and an examination, including the hole that will be left when Nudelman dies.  Witness “Reflecting Death:”

                                    I don’t’ see my loved-ones . . .
                                    Just my dog Sophie, asleep at the door . . .
                                    Or am I being overly sentimental?

By employment of “sentimental” in just this position, at the end, the speaker signifies that he’s let go, can see his own dying, and has found a way to adjust his self, and the self-referring metaphor, to an image of the life he’s encountered.  Additionally, narcissism is subsumed in the emblems:  time, love, struggle, leading to an ironic acceptance, when he admits to stumbling on spelling simple words, and his openness to failures, found in “Wordless Refrain”:

                                     …The theme repeats itself a full eighteen 
                                    times, a resplendent opportunity
                                    for fixation, all wordless.  Sublime.

The interior rhyme in these lines is not only brilliant and musical, but meta-thematic, considering time’s passage and the futility of words to fully understand it, whilst deftly addressing it after all, with language, his playfulness and good cheer in the rhyme coming through and simultaneously offering the sublime.    

The closing poem, “Famous Numbers, and Then There’s Me,” perhaps represents in microcosm the book, a poem which is both a culmination and a deep sounding of the self’s dark fathoms. The poem begins by offering numbers, and their certainty, but the speaker remains in mystery as we drift toward sleep, a kind of practice for death, as he imagines:

                                    . . . angel hairs splitting the wind and radiant seraphim
                                    lightly touching the sky.  I see unnumbered rays masking
                                    the nascent darkness and portents of rain.

Richard Howard, referring to Valery, remarks that we call beautiful a work which makes us aware, first, that it might not have existed, and second that it would not have been sublime, unless we read it precisely as the author wrote it. We are not drawn into criticism, necessarily, but enjoy the quality of the experience. And it is in this sense that these poems are beautiful.  They express an impulse, irrespective of how matter-of-fact the setting or scattered the phrases, which afford us the framing possibilities: the hand-to-mouth expression of a self-locating, often distilled to hopes and fears and unctions.  This is a book that once read, demands rereading, which is my highest praise in a day where poetry comes and goes, and vanishes forgettable. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Featured on Rattle

My poem and audio version are now featured on Rattle Poetry (Rattle #49, Fall, 2015) found here: