A Monthly Account of the Year Leading Up to the End of the World, by Agonistes, Prophet and Fulfiller; or, The Exhausted Dream
Author: Joshua Edwards
Publisher: Antebooks (2018)
Joshua Edwards’s new book-length poem is small enough to balance on the flat of one’s hand (roughly 15 cm x 10 cm) but ambitious in its scope, marrying two quite opposed tendencies. On the one hand, A Monthly Account is rigorously closed in form. The first of its twelve sections is dated “January 21, 2012,” the second “February 21, 2012,” and so on, right to “December 21, 2012.” Each section has ten stanzas, each stanza ten lines, each line ten syllables. Yet even though the poem’s form is strict and regular, its speaker, Agonistes, is a soul-baring, emotionally labile, sturm und drang fountain of expression, reminiscent of Goethe’s Werther or Byron’s Childe Harold or Senancour’s Obermann. The intersection of his Romantic effusion with a nearly obsessive-compulsive mechanics of form generates thematic energy as well as being often entertaining.