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About this poet

On June 7, 1924, Edward Field was born in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up on Long Island, where he played cello in the Field Family Trio over radio station WGBB. During World War II, he flew twenty-five missions over Europe. After a short time at New York University, where he first met Alfred Chester. He travelled to Europe in 1946 and focused seriously on his writing; he returned to the United States in 1948.

In 1956, after brief stints working in a warehouse, in art production, as a machinist, and as a clerk-typist, Field began studying acting with Russian émigré Vera Soloviova of the Moscow Art Theatre. He applied the techniques he learned to reading poetry in public, and was able to support himself in this way throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Field has taught workshops at the Poetry Center of the YMHA, Sarah Lawrence, and other colleges. His books of poetry include After The Fall: Poems Old and New (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007); Magic Words: Poems (Harcourt, 1997); Counting Myself Lucky: Selected Poems 1963-1992 (1992); New and Selected Poems from the Book of My Life (1987); A Full Heart (1977), nominated for the Lenore Marshall Prize; and Stand Up, Friend, with Me (1963), which was the 1962 Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets.

Field has edited anthologies of poetry, translated Eskimo songs and stories, and written the narration for the documentary film To Be Alive, which won an Academy Award for best documentary short subject in 1965. He is the editor of The Alfred Chester Newsletter and has prepared several volumes of Chester's work for Black Sparrow Press. Field has also collaborated on several popular novels with Neil Derrick, under the joint pseudonym of Bruce Elliot. Although Field makes regular trips to Europe, his permanent residence is in New York City.

A Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Stand Up, Friend, With Me (Grove Press, 1963)
Variety Photoplays (Grove Press, 1967)
Eskimo Songs and Stories (Delacorte, 1973)
A Full Heart (Sheep Meadow Press, 1977)
Stars In My Eyes (Sheep Meadow Press, 1978)
The Lost, Dancing (Watershed Tapes, 1984)
New And Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow Press, 1987)
Counting Myself Lucky, Selected Poems l963-l992 (Black Sparrow, 1992)
A Frieze for a Temple of Love (Black Sparrow, 1998)
Magic Words (Harcourt Brace, 1998)
After The Fall: Poems Old and New (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007)

Fiction (with Neil Derrick)

The Potency Clinic (Bleecker Street Press, 1978)
Die PotenzKlinik (Albino Verlag, Berlin, 1982)
Village (Avon Books, 1982)
The Office (Ballantine Books, 1987)
The Villagers (Painted Leaf Press, 2000)

Non-Fiction

The Man Who Would Marry Susan Sontag, and Other Intimate Literary Profies of the Bohemian Era (University of Wisconsin Press, 2005)

Curse of the Cat Woman

Edward Field, 1924
It sometimes happens
that the woman you meet and fall in love with
is of that strange Transylvanian people
with an affinity for cats.

You take her to a restaurant, say, or a show,
on an ordinary date, being attracted
by the glitter in her slitty eyes and her catlike walk,
and afterward of course you take her in your arms,
and she turns into a black panther
and bites you to death.

Or perhaps you are saved in the nick of time,
and she is tormented by the knowledge of her tendency:
that she daren't hug a man
unless she wants to risk clawing him up.

This puts you both in a difficult position,
panting lovers who are prevented from touching
not by bars but by circumstance:
you have terrible fights and say cruel things,
for having the hots does not give you a sweet temper.

One night you are walking down a dark street
and hear the padpad of a panther following you,
but when you turn around there are only shadows,
or perhaps one shadow too many

You approach, calling, "Who's there?"
and it leaps on you.
Luckily you have brought along your sword,
and you stab it to death.

And before your eyes it turns into the woman you love,
her breast impaled on your sword,
her mouth dribbling blood saying she loved you
but couldn't help her tendency.

So death released her from the curse at last,
and you knew from the angelic smile on her dead face
that in spite of a life the devil owned,
love had won, and heaven pardoned her.

From After the Fall by Edward Field. Copyright © 2007 by Edward Field. Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

From After the Fall by Edward Field. Copyright © 2007 by Edward Field. Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

Edward Field

Edward Field

Born in 1924, poet Edward Field is the author of several books of poetry and received the 1962 Lamont Poetry Selection