The poems in Ed Madden's second book, Prodigal: Variations, explore relations between men-fathers, sons, brothers, lovers-as well as questions of home and exile, memory and loss, and the promises and compromises of any return. In poems that are at once both mythic and deeply personal, Madden asks how we define home, what rituals and relationships sustain us in a world shaped by loss. Consistently re-imagining and reinterpreting the biblical stories of his youth, the speaker tries to imagine a new identity and new relationships. If the lover offers a different sustaining relationship, the consolations and beauty of the natural world remain a constant in these poems, an ambiguous Eden in which the story may be different, but the human needs remain the same. This book of exile and longing imagines not a return to the old home, but arrival at a true home. It's less a coming of age collection, more a blossoming, a negotiation of a dangerous new world in which we have to reconcile with-without relenting to-the past.
About the Author
Ed Madden is an associate professor of English and director of the undergraduate program in Women's & Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.
Praise for Prodigal: Variations …
"The Prodigal Son squanders his inheritance because he knows this world is all there is, that the love of his father is more important than the love of the Father, that without forgiveness, love cannot be made manifest. There's a quiet rural despair in these poems reminiscent of James White, the spiritual comforts unveiled by Madden embodied in the here and now, not the hereafter. 'Viscous,' 'Devotion,' and 'Far from home, this small room' are masterful gems." — Timothy Liu