This book is the winner of the 1989 Juniper Prize, the annual poetry award sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Press.
The poems in First Language do what Keats said poems must do: "surprise by a fine excess." Edward Kleinschmidt's words ricochet and deflect on their way to and from the heart. As the title suggests, these poems work from the source, that area of language, memory, and experience behind the operative meaning of words. Kleinschmidt dives into the layered implications of words for their limitless possibilities, to places that even those words had forgotten they had access to. He does so with a playful, astute intelligence and originality. He is the wild card in any deck of contemporary poets.