Words for Elephant Man

By Kenneth Sherman

© 2012

Kenneth Sherman's collection Words for Elephant Man delves into the fascinating life of Joseph Merrick, the titular `Elephant Man' who came to prominence as a sideshow curiosity in England in the late nineteenth century. Sherman's spare, captivating verse gives a voice to Merrick's fraught and complex existence, and couples it with a genuine compassion quite distant from the chill of a gawking public.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Porcupine's Quill
  • Page Count: 96 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5in x 0.4in x 8.7in
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SKU# DT061196

  • PUBLISHED MAR 2012
    From: $16.95
    ISBN 9780889843509

Quick Overview

`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.

Words for Elephant Man

By Kenneth Sherman

© 2012

Kenneth Sherman's collection Words for Elephant Man delves into the fascinating life of Joseph Merrick, the titular `Elephant Man' who came to prominence as a sideshow curiosity in England in the late nineteenth century. Sherman's spare, captivating verse gives a voice to Merrick's fraught and complex existence, and couples it with a genuine compassion quite distant from the chill of a gawking public.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Porcupine's Quill
  • Page Count: 96 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5in x 0.4in x 8.7in

`Better than either the movie or the play, Words for Elephant Man delves under the pitted skin of John Merrick before emerging with a masterfully articulate portrait.'


Poetry Toronto

`Grammar, language, articulation and reference to machines and engines combine with the language of freaks, misfits and outcasts ... Words for Elephant Man is both graceful and a gift ... a stunning synthesis of art and craft.'


Poetry Canada Review

`It is the weaving of anecdotal fragments and epiphanies that gives the voice authority here. We can believe the poet behind the mask ... Merrick's intelligence, humour, and grace come through in moments of astute analysis and celebratory faith.'


Contemporary Verse II

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 Toron