Ed Roberson’s ‘Chicago Poems’

August 12, 2011

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Chicago’s Ed Roberson is a self-described nature poet inspired by his travels to far flung locales.

Although he is a poet, he also pursues the field of limnology: the study of inland waters. (A fine pursuit for a resident of the Great Lakes region.) His adventures -- mountain treks in the Peruvian Andes, geographical investigations in West Africa -- sound more like the work of a 19th century explorer than those of a Northwestern professor.

Although Roberson writes about remote corners of Alaska and the Amazon, he sometimes turns his poet’s lens on his own city. For example: “Nine Chicago Poems,” a selection from his book To See the Earth Before the End of the World (Wesleyan University Press, 2010).

At a reading Roberson gave in May, he offered up section number seven from the Chicago series, bursting with images of the city’s iconic Hancock Building.  The tower first appears in the poem as an oil well gone dry, then, as a monolith surrounded by the waters of the lake:

And screened on our bodies the billboard, buses, city wall

The crude that is this day struck from our drilling

You can hear his poetic offering in the audio above.

Dynamic Range showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified’s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Ed Roberson read at an event presented by UniVerse of Poetry in May. Click here to hear the event in its entirety.