Words for Elephant Man

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The Porcupine's Quill, 2012 - Poetry - 88 pages
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‘Man is a / fascinating animal’, Kenneth Sherman writes, and it is this fascination that drives the narrative in Words for Elephant Man. Written in the voice of Joseph Merrick, the ‘Elephant Man’ plagued with a disfiguring condition that ravaged much of his body, Sherman reveals his subject to be more than just a living fascination. Sherman’s Merrick, acutely observant, is equally fascinated by those around him.

Using found lines from historical record interwoven with his own beautifully rendered verse, Sherman’s collection triumphs as a haunting, eloquent portrait of a man whose body was both disabler and enabler, a man who was both a commodity and a salesman, mechanical and organic, and whose extraordinary circumstances overshadowed the remarkably ordinary desires he shared with humanity. Sherman’s Merrick is observant, clever and authentic, and possessed of a voice that resonates through the years and into the hearts and minds of readers.


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A Dead Elephant
Before the Pathological Society of London
This City
One Mother
Treves Description of Merrick

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About the author (2012)

Kenneth Sherman was born in Toronto in 1950. He has a BA from York University, where he studied with Eli Mandel and Irving Layton, and an MA in English Literature from the University of Toronto. While a student at York, Sherman co-founded and edited the literary journal Waves. From 1974--1975 he travelled extensively through Asia. He is a full-time faculty member at Sheridan College where he teaches Communications; he also teaches a course in creative writing at the University of Toronto.

In 1982, Sherman was writer-in-residence at Trent University. In 1986 he was invited by the Chinese government to lecture on contemporary Canadian literature at universities and government institutions in Beijing. In 1988, he received a Canada Council grant to travel through Poland and Russia. This experience inspired several of the essays in his book Void and Voice (1998). Sherman, author of the acclaimed Words for Elephant Man, and The Well: New and Selected Poems, lives in Toronto with his wife, Marie, an artist.

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