Free Verse Editions
Edited by Jon Thompson
Information and Pricing
978-1-932559-99-6 (paperback; $12.00); 978-1-932559-46-0 (PDF, $9.99) © 2006 by Parlor Press, 84 pages.
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"Tom Dvorske on Adam Clay" in H_NGM_N: An Online Journal of Poetry and Poetics. 2007: "Clay . . . revisits romanticism and allows us to experience it in much the same way that I imagine those first readers of Blake, Shelley, and Clare might have experienced their work. And it’s a visit worth making."
About This Book
Rich in river imagery and an intense sense of the passage of time, The Wash explores the incessant music that permeates journeys with a destination unknown. Interweaving the voices of John Clare, Audubon, Roethke, and others, the poems depict a landscape of loss in which language and images provide the only concrete platform on which to stand. Ending with an elegy for the self-portrait and an acceptance of the inevitability of decay, the speaker discovers "the stillness of frames both comforts and terrifies." Playing a lyrical voice against the limits of silence, The Wash uncovers the voices that can be made, and heard, in and out of nature.
What Others Are Saying
The Wash offers a dual-tone voice that reaches for wisdom and doubt at once. The result is a collection of poems both funny and discomforting, but above all, genuine. Adam Clay makes a songbird from the smallest moments and it’s a pleasure to hear his song.
These anachronistic poems are small as prayers but without the posturing. Like John Clare on the long walk home from the asylum, their speaker suffers not from attention deficit but from its surplus, pierced by memory, Nature, Oblivion and the Giant Forms in which “the shadows of fish / live as the fish do.” A Romantic without heroism, a naturalist who knows himself excluded from Nature’s mirror, he goes split from himself, reeling through the tautology of a world without end. This ‘Clock a Clay’ observes with a Clare-ity that includes pleasure, dismay and eroticism, how “a rock / turn[s] black with the memory of my face,” but just “[a]sk and I will be your cuckoo for two hundred years.” Clay’s is an un-Enclosed speaker moving optimistically toward catastrophe: “The window was so clean / I walked into it, hoping for a headfull of sky.”
On every page of The Wash , Adam Clay discovers new kinds of eloquence, elegance, excitement, and inward experience from which a language springs that can flow forward through present space (wherever we are now) and backward (often to old England), then downward into the still reaches of the heart where the waters give us our own faces back. . . . This book is an eyeful and an earful. It teems with originality.
About the Author
Adam Clay’s poems have appeared in Denver Quarterly, The Iowa Review, Barrow Street, Black Warrior Review, Fascicle, CutBank, The New Orleans Review, Conduit, Octopus Magazine, Free Verse, and elsewhere. A chapbook, Canoe, is available from Horse Less Press. Born and raised in Mississippi, he holds an MFA from the University of Arkansas and an MA from The Center for Writers at The University of Southern Mississippi. He now lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with his wife, Kimberley.
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