The Love Songs of Ephram Pratt by Jack Lorts
RELEASED MARCH 2019
An Introduction to Ephram
The Love Songs of Ephram Pratt came about as a result of my meeting Ephram Pratt some ten years ago.
I first met Ephram in a poem in 2008; I didn’t know him previously & he is not related to a minor historical figure I’ve since encountered on the Internet. He is, in all likelihood, of the Tribe of Ephraim in the book of Numbers, and I also suppose he may be an alter-ego or doppelgänger of mine who talks and writes about things I may feel somewhat reluctant or uncomfortable in dealing with in my poems. Since meeting him, we have shared in writing some 800 of our “Songs of Ephram Pratt.” Although I have been writing seriously since the late 1950s, the past several years, Ephram seems have monopolized the bulk of my writing time.
Ephram and I deal with subjects about which neither of us knows much of anything, as well as subjects on which one or both of us know a lot. We love to play with words and at times we love big long words that we just love to loll around on our tongues. We love to read them aloud, although I do most of the reading and Ephram just listens.
There are often times we write poems we don’t know anything about, much less what they mean or understand them. Dali says, “The fact I myself do not understand what my paintings mean while I am painting them does not imply that they are meaningless.” Ephram and I strongly agree with Dali, that just because we do not understand what our poems mean, it doesn’t mean they are meaningless.
We believe in stream of consciousness, Kerouac’s spontaneous prose and the dream world of Andre Breton’s automatic writing.
Jack e Lorts
In Jack Lorts’ latest collection, that poetic madcap and saboteur of the mundane, Ephram Pratt, truly hits his stride as our guide, a flaneur leading us to “brittle midnights” and right through “the invisible door to another childhood.” Pratt’s eccentric fascinations, which include circuses, unusual shoes, thunder-eggs, and a panoply of sirens, mean these love songs host rich strangenesses and ludic surprises. They mean readers may overhear crying trees and talking wood fawns, and may be spoken to alongside deceased mermaids. Writing in short lines like imaginative outbursts, Lorts delivers rare transformative rewards— “tiny chevrons of gold,” “a glowing coal burnt into soft molasses,“ and “a tiny box of hope placed on the cinders” that resists the flames. Readers, too, will bask in the wonders Lorts uncovers in these couplets, heatdriven by the engines of his gifts for phrasing, his surrealist leaps and juxtapositions, and his penchant for continuous poetic discovery.
~Matt Schumacher, Editor, Phantom Drift & author of Spilling the Moon
In these buoyant songs of delight and wonder, of mystery and exuberance that grow ever more laced with melancholy, the fictional Ephram Pratt—who once was a boy “with lanterns for eyes,” whose voice was “soft raisins in a box on the dresser,” a boy with hopes of exploring all the world can offer—sings his way through dream-like, surrealist, “minor miracles” that engage all our senses, and into the country of age and reflection, where songs become the memory of songs (though the urge to sing is never lost): a place where song, the “acorns of despair,” and silence intertwine and become one. It is a pleasure and an honor to recommend this luminous tapestry of poems by Jack Lorts, a book I hope to return to again and again.
~Ingrid Wendt, poet and Oregon Book Award recipient, author of Singing the Mozart Requiem and Evensong.