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First-ever new edition of GULPING'S RECITAL, the first novel by "the godfather of the prose poem in America" Russell Edson (1929-2014)
88 backers pledged $1,474 to help bring this project to life.
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$1,474

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To fans of modern American poetry and the prose poem in particular, Russell Edson needs no introduction. However, not many of his readers know that in addition to numerous collections of poems, fables, and short stories, he also authored two novels: Gulping's Recital (Guignol Books, 1984) and The Song of Percival Peacock (Coffee House Press, 1992).

Gulping's Recital has an interesting history. Excerpts from the novel, alongside works by such notables as Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Diane di Prima, Robert Creeley, LeRoi Jones, and John Rechy, appeared in The Moderns: An Anthology of New World Writing, edited by Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones at the time) and published by Corinth Books in 1963. (This was a year prior to the New Directions publication of Edson's breakthrough collection of prose poems, The Very Thing That Happens.) In the "Notes on the Authors" section at the back of the book, it stated "Jonathan Williams' Jargon Press is scheduled to bring out the complete Gulping's Recital." 

For reasons unknown, the Jargon Press edition never materialized and it wasn't until 21 years later that Gulping's Recital was finally published. I contacted the printer/designer of the Guignol Books edition who provided me with the following information: Although the copyright page lists three separate editions (paperback, hardcover, and leather-bound limited edition of 26 signed copies), only the paperback was ever produced. (125 copies, if that, he estimated.) The book's distribution deal fell through, the printer was forced to close up shop for financial reasons, and the original publisher went out of business shortly after. 

Needless to say, I was very pleased to receive permission from the estate of Russell Edson to publish the first-ever new edition of this humorous, somewhat absurd, somewhat surreal, and very rare novel. The Tough Poets Press edition, scheduled for publication this September, will also include a 2004 interview with Edson conducted by Mark Tursi, author and professor of literature and writing at Marymount Manhattan College and New Jersey City University.

About the Book

Left: Scan of my beat up copy of the original Guignol Book's edition / Right: Cover and spine design for the new Tough Poets Press edition (back cover photo of Russell Edson by Jim Kalett)
Left: Scan of my beat up copy of the original Guignol Book's edition / Right: Cover and spine design for the new Tough Poets Press edition (back cover photo of Russell Edson by Jim Kalett)

Format: Paperback
Pages: 136
Dimensions: 8.27" x 5.83" x 0.29"
Weight: 0.38 lbs.

About the Author

Russell Edson (December 12, 1928 – April 29, 2014), often referred to as "the godfather of the prose poem in America," was a poet, novelist, and illustrator. He was the son of cartoonist-screenwriter Gus Edson, best known for his work on two popular, long running comic strips, The Gumps and Dondi

Russell Edson with his wife Frances, early 1960s (Photo by Jim Kalett from the UPenn Rare Book & Manuscript Library Image Collections)
Russell Edson with his wife Frances, early 1960s (Photo by Jim Kalett from the UPenn Rare Book & Manuscript Library Image Collections)

Edson studied art early in life and attended the Art Students League of New York as a teenager. His first collection of poetry and short fiction, Ceremonies in Bachelor Space, was published in 1951 by Black Mountain College. In the early 1960s, he self-published several chapbooks of prose poems under the imprint Thing Press, the best of which were later collected into The Very Thing That Happens: Fables and Drawings, published by New Directions in 1964. Numerous other collections followed, as well as a book of plays, The Falling Sickness, also published by New Directions (1975). Throughout his career, his work appeared in countless anthologies and literary magazines. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (1974), The Whiting Award (1989), and three National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships (1976, 1981, 1992). 

Edson was a long-time resident of Darien, Connecticut. He is survived by his wife Frances.

"Russell Edson is the great comic poet of America. He give us hilarity of events and of people that has turned conventional truths on their respective heads to be seen in new brilliant forms. He is the master of the inappropriate and it is all done magically."
    — David Ignatow

"… one of those originals who appear out of the lonesomeness of a vast, thronged country to create a peculiar and defined world … a world seen as through the wrong end of a spyglass, minuscule but singularly clear."
    — Denise Levertov 

For more on Edson, check out Sarah Manguso's brilliant essay "Why the Reader of Good Prose Poems Is Never Sad: An Appreciation of Russell Edson" from the March 2004 issue of The Believer.

About Tough Poets Press 

Tough Poets Press is a one-person independent publisher of rediscovered offbeat literary fiction and non-fiction founded in 2015. To date, I've published 12 books thanks to the generous support of the Kickstarter community, including the recent first-ever reissues of Donald Newlove's critically-acclaimed 1978 novel, Sweet Adversity, and Gil Orlovitz's 1970 experimental novel, Ice Never F, as well as the first published collection of interviews with Beat poet Gregory Corso, The Whole Shot.

Where the Money Will Go

As with all my previous Kickstarter projects, my goal is simply to break even and get the book out there. For this campaign to be successful, I will need to raise $1,079. In the interest of full disclosure, here's how it all breaks down, assuming 83 U.S. pledges at $13 each: 

Kickstarter's 10% cut: $107.90
Printer set-up fees: $49.00
ISBN and bar code: $85.00
Cost to have 98 copies printed and shipped to me: $353.90
Cost to package and mail 83 copies to backers ($2.93 each): $243.19
Cost to package and mail 10 copies to Edson's estate: $4.83
Cost to package and mail 5 copies to Edson's interviewer: $3.79
Royalties for 83 copies to Edson's estate ($2.77 each): $229.91
My profit: $1.48  

Risks and challenges

There are really no risks or challenges. This will be the thirteenth book I've produced and published so I've got the process down to a science.

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