Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Ed Roberson  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Poetry

Audience: Adult;

Born: in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

-- Website --
-- Ed Roberson on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Ed Roberson is Distinguished Artist in Residence at Northwestern University and lives in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Ed Roberson is the author of numerous books of poetry, including Voices Cast Out to Talk Us In, a winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize, His Atmosphere Conditions was selected for the National Poetry Series and nominated for the Lenore Marshall Award from the Academy of American Poets. He is a recipient of the Lila Wallace Writers' Award and the 2008 Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

When Thy King Is A Boy (Pitt Poetry Series)
ISBN: 0822952149

University of Pittsburgh Press. 1970

C.D. Wright has described Roberson’s work as “lyric poetry of meticulous design and lasting emotional significance," comparing its musical qualities to the work of saxophonist Steve Lacy, jazz pianist Thelonious Monk, and composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

Etai-Eken (Pitt Poetry Series)
ISBN: 0822952637

University of Pittsburgh Press. 1975

Etai-Eken is a legend told in a series, a cycle of poems, which is to say, told in different languages. The action of the poems in the poem is their moving in and out of the legend by the changes of access to the larger legend an access of the present in the ancient, of the present’s knowledge and experience of it.

Voices Cast Out to Talk Us In (Iowa Poetry Prize)
ISBN: 0877455104

University Of Iowa Press. 1995

There is no one else like Ed Roberson - certainly there is no other poet like him. His is an oblique, eccentric, totally fascinating talent. Because of these qualities, it may seem that he is difficult to follow - as Ornette Coleman or Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Romare Bearden seems difficult to track at times. But his strength of vision is always evident the quickness and inclusiveness of his voice can sweep a reader along into new and refreshing areas.
Roberson's poetic moves are not tricks or affected traits. They are artistic and deeply considered techniques. Reading the two basic cycles of this elliptical and intriguing work could be likened to reading Ezra Pound or a more deliberate and lyrically touched Charles Olson, but with an unanchored allusiveness of things largely American taking the place of the Chinese and the Mayan. Roberson creates that rare combination of sophistication and simplicity which defines truly significant poetry. In this new work he makes the variety of our culture dance from his very special viewpoint.

Just In: Word of Navigational Challenges: New and Selected Work (Native Americans of the Northeast)
ISBN: 1883689791

Talisman House, Publishers. 1998

Poetry. African American Studies. Michael Palmer writes, "Ed Roberson offers us, up front, the nerve-edge of poetic speech, sequences of the unanticipated, as poetry of real significance is meant to do. This generous and much-needed selection graphs the development of a poet committed to the articulation of a resistant, multi-faceted identity. It should affirm his place, at last, as one of the most deeply innovative and critically acute voices of our time." JUST IN: WORD OF NAVIGATIONAL CHALLENGES is a chronicle of Roberson's works from 1970 to the present, marked throughout by a language derived from the rhythms of speech and the natural world: see in the river the ripples' / picture on the surface of the wind the lifting of the image / has taken at the deeper face // the starry freedom / written in the milky rivery line... (Taking the Print).

To See the Earth Before the End of the World (Wesleyan Poetry Series)
ISBN: 081956950X

Wesleyan University Press. 2010

In To See the Earth Before the End of the World Ed Roberson presents us with 120 new poems, each speaking in his unique voice and seen through his unique eye. Earth and sky, neighborhood life and ancient myths, the art of seeing and the architecture of the imagination are all among the subjects of these poems. Recurring images and ideas construct a complex picture of our world, ourselves, and the manifold connections tying them together. The poems raise large questions about the natural world and our place in it, and they do not flinch from facing up to those questions.

Roberson's poems range widely through different scales of time and space, invoking along the way history and myth, galaxies and garbage trucks, teapots and the history of photography, mating cranes and Chicago's political machine. This collection is composed of five sequences, each developing a particular constellation of images and ideas related to the vision of the whole. Various journeys become one journey--an epic journey, invoking epic themes. There are songs of creation, pictures of the sorrows of war, celebrations of human labor and human society, a respect for tools and domestic utensils that are well made, the deep background of the past tingeing the colors of the present, and the tragic tones of endings and laments, a pervading awareness of the tears in things. Most of all, there is the exhilaration of a grand, sweeping vision that enlarges our world.


  • Iowa Poetry Prize,
  • Voices Cast Out to Talk Us In

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (No)