The Big Job: Poems 1978 - 2004

The Big Job: Poems 1978 - 2004


Robert Edwards

ISBN: 9781945063008

Pages: 180

Publication Date: 2016

Typeface: Dante

Add To Cart

The Big Job is filled with exclamations, high-spirited imperatives, and raucous hilarity in poems that are linguistically and formally adventurous without being coy and vague. All of these qualities make them highly unfashionable, but we would do well to read them and see what we’re missing in so much contemporary poetry that works so hard to say so little. In ‘Manifesto #94,’ Edwards wrote the following lines, committing to political action: “Now is the time / to set the wind free in the house. / Now is the time / to unsheathe my tongue / and take the safety off my hand.” Now is still the time. – Jonathan Andersen

Where are we in history? What have we lost? What have we become? That’s what Robert Edwards asks in this vast and decades-spanning book of lyrics and narratives and rants and homages—asks and sometimes answers, but never in a simple way. These are poems in love with, and deeply disillusioned by, America. Unapologetic, partisan, political, urgent, furious, The Big Job is also celebratory as it moves, in its own words, “among the sirens, in the American dark.” The truth is, some books can’t help but be hopeful, because they are so full of decency and real thinking. “Bring everything you have,” writes Edwards. “We need it all / because it is ourselves we make.” – Daisy Fried

Part retrospective, part poetry manifesto, part call to action, behind Edwards’ “Big Job” is a big idea: the need of working people to abolish the stranglehold rule of the rich and powerful and construct the foundations of a new egalitarian society. If Edwards’ allegiance to the working class harkens back to such midwestern literary ancestors as Tom McGrath and Meridel LeSueur, his rich imagery, surprising leaps and turns of language, and creation of a unique poetic voice are as accomplished as any poet writing today. The result of over forty years of writing, The Big Job is a triumph for Edwards, as well as for a growing movement of writers seeking to create socially conscious work on behalf of the 99 per cent. – Christopher Butters

Many a poet envisions him- or herself as a courageous figure, toiling steadfastly, crafting poems in, and despite, the Great American Wilderness. But it’s rare to find a poet who will say, “Now is the time / to make a few enemies.” And actually do it, with passion and joie de vivre. Such is the joy awaiting the reader of Robert Edwards’ The Big Job. – John Bradley

Though we are living through dark times, politically and existentially, we have Robert Edwards’ The Big Job to remind us of what it was like when the passion for justice was strong voiced and packed the streets. In these poems, Edwards brings us an archive of protest from 1978 to 2004 and with masterful poetic voice, he honours his contemporaries and those who have gone before. There is anger here, but also humor and biting satire as he skews those who stir his contempt, from Reagan and Bush to Enron bullies exulting over their exploitation of Grandma Millie. Now, this history of rebellion is more timely and needed than ever. – Marilyn Zuckerman

Robert Edwards is originally from northern Minnesota. He attended Moorhead State University where he studied poetry with Thomas McGrath. His books include Rumors of EarthTransparenciesRadio Venceremos, and American Sounds. Founder and editor of the magazine Pemmican, Edwards lives near Seattle.