To Make Room for the Sea

Adam Clay. Milkweed, $16 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-57131-497-0
In his contemplative fourth book, Clay (Stranger) draws from an impressive repertoire of forms to tease out complex questions regarding time, epistemology, and memory. “If measuring/ one’s life circular/ makes sense of movement,/ then how should/ we muscle meaning/ into days?” he asks in the opening poem. Clay’s philosophical concerns unify: “Where in a moment/ is the music of a dying leaf?” he muses, reminding readers of beauty’s ephemerality and the narratives people create in order to make sense of the world. Yet, as the book unfolds, Clay’s speakers transform this fearful impermanence into “a blur of accidental happiness,” discovering hope and fulfillment in the intricacies of human connection. As though reflecting on the movement of the poems themselves, he writes, “What starts off as nihilistic/ inside the folds of my thinking// usually ends up as stray/ unkempt optimism.” The work’s arc suggests transformation and redemption through formal shifts that amplify the meaning in the poems themselves. “Anything can change, after all,” as Clay suggests in this accomplished, formally dexterous collection. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 12/12/2019
Release date: 03/01/2020
Genre: Poetry
Open Ebook - 978-1-57131-972-2
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