When a book of brazenly surrealistic poetry and prose was published in 1984, attributed to a mysterious figure named “Racter,” it was hard to know what to make of it. The Policeman’s Beard Is Half-Constructed was a fever vision of weirdness. “I need electricity,” declared the poet in a signature moment. “I need it more than I need lamb or pork or lettuce or cucumber./ I need it for my dreams.” That same tone, at once charming and confounding, charged Racter’s aphorisms, limericks, fictional riffs, bits of dialogue, and odd attempts at nursery rhyme (“there once was a ghoulish sad snail”).

Reviews were mixed. Most conceded that nothing like The Policeman’s Beard Is Half-Constructed had ever been seen before. But Racter’s patter...

 

A Message from the Editors

Since 1982, The New Criterion has nurtured and safeguarded our delicate cultural inheritance. Join our family of supporters and secure the future of civilization.

Popular Right Now