Stranger

Adam Clay. Milkweed Editions (PGW, dist.), $16 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-57131-463-5
In his third collection, Clay (A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World) circles around change and the recontextualization of life that change brings. A simple shift of location can alter everything: "once the trees did not need their names," he writes, "it needed no one/ to explain its madness to." Clay wrestles with small ripples that have great personal ramifications: the empty room that once held a lifetime; the new life in a cradle, demanding attention; a cross-country move that shifts what the idea of winter means. That wrestling spills out over four sections, one of which is a long meditation on the framing of life and the contexts people place themselves in every day. In language that is circular, stoic, and almost Zen-like, Clay attempts to remain himself in the face of life shifting underneath him: "the space/ a body holds in any moment// is a marker of something greater/ than ourselves." At times the circular thinking spins away from him—the book feels long, and the poems are very similar in tone and subject—but Clay's language saves these imperfections from overtaking the whole: "I'd like to maintain a consistent voice// or maybe I'd just like to maintain a consistent/ direction to cast my voice in." (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 03/07/2016
Release date: 03/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 154 pages - 978-1-57131-909-8
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