Bart Edelman Serves ‘The Last Mojito’ at Vroman’s

El Vaquero Staff Writer

In the middle of Pasadena, on the second floor of a magnificent bookshop, a large crowd is waiting to hear the readings of a poet.

On Sept. 30 at Vroman’s Bookstore, Bart Edelman, a professor of English at GCC and also the editor of Eclipse, the college’s literary journal, read selected poems from his latest book of poetry, “The Last Mojito,” as well as some poems from his other works.

He began the readings with a poem titled “Girls Like Linka” and finished it with “The Last Mojito,” which is also the title of his latest book.

The crowd ate up his poetry. His poem “Courtship” was received with laughter and loud applause as was “Excuses (for English 103).”
Several GCC students and teachers were in the audience.

“I think he’s a very good writer,” said Danielle Baker, a student of Edelman’s. “He uses simple words to convey deep meanings.”
“I really loved it. He was wonderful,” said Ted Levatter, a professor of speech.

“The Last Mojito” is Edelman’s fifth book of poetry. His others are titled: “Crossing the Hackensack,” “Under Damaris’ Dress,” “The Alphabet of Love,” and “The Gentle Man.”

Poems from each of these books are also in multiple anthologies and textbooks.

Several poems from “The Last Mojito” have already been chosen to go into other works.

“It’s very nice, because editors are picking out a poem and they don’t know you, and it ends up in an anthology that you respect-even a textbook that’s taught at GCC,” said Edelman.
Several of the English classes on campus use his books or textbooks containing his poems.

Michael Harnett, a professor of English, is currently using “The Last Mojito” for his English 102 class (Critical Thinking and Literary Analysis) and “The Alphabet of Love” for his English 124 class (Contemporary Literature).

Dale Fassoth and Todd Yetenekian, both students of Harnett’s, brought their friend Merrick Wahl along with them to the reading. They all agreed that it was better than they had expected and that they liked the last poem he read, “The Last Mojito,” the most.
A mojito is an alcoholic beverage. The chapters in “The Last Mojito” are named after all the ingredients in the drink: Mint, Sugar, Lime, Rum, Ice and Club Soda.

“I thought it [the reading] was going to be something I would sleep through, but it turned out to be interesting,” said Wahl.
Edelman has been writing since high school; it began with writing song lyrics and then grew into poetry.

However, he did not get serious about writing until around 1990, when he gained a lot of confidence in his work by going out and doing readings.

Edelman started college as a political science major, but when he thought about going to graduate school he found out it was a lot of textbooks, lectures and voting patterns.

He then asked the adviser, “What would an M.A. in English literature entail? And he said, ‘well, you read novels, poetry and plays,'” said Edelman.

So Edelman ended up with a graduate degree in English and an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Hofstra University in New York.

When asked what he liked best about poetry, he said, “I like the immediacy and the compression of a poem.”

Edelman has traveled all over the world to do literary research. He spent time in India, Nigeria, Poland and Egypt, funded by grants and fellowships that he received form the U.S. Department of Education and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

Eclipse is one of few community college literary journals that contain both student and professional work.

In fact, about 20 percent of the journal is work done by students and 80 percent is done by outside authors. Students can find their work next to an author whose poem they just read in their textbooks.

Edelman says that Eclipse is looking for student submissions of either poetry or fiction. Typed work may be submitted to the Eclipse office in LB216 or placed in Edelman’s mailbox in the administration building.