Tremulous Hinge

Adam Giannelli. Univ. of Iowa, , $21 ISBN 978-1-60938-486-9
Giannelli’s debut is a quiet affair, but its simplicity masks layers and a longing for precision exhibited through minute adjustments, tweaked phrases, and shifting imagery. This striving for fluency could have been born from the childhood speech impediment the poet reflects on poignantly in the opening poem: “since I can’t say everlasting/ I say every/ lost thing.” At the same time, Giannelli is preoccupied with double meanings. In “Star Gazers,” “we” look out at the stars, but they are looking right back at us. Metaphors are applied and swapped out, as in “Hydrangea,” where the flower is a snow cone, a “Bearded lady,// balloon man, chameleon,” “honeycomb/ and bouquet,” “viscous muscle,” and more. He contends with the limits of clarity using some quite brilliant anagrams and homonyms, as in “parents in the train window winnowed to transparence.” Sometimes Giannelli seems to pull stunning phrases whole from the ether, describing the tides as “the ocean tearing blue page after/ blue page from its journal.” He also explores grief through a document written by a deceased grandfather, its perplexities perhaps easier to contend with than those of life itself. Though perfect expression may be unattainable, poetry is often about the process, and it is a pleasure to watch Giannelli work (and rework) his magic. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/27/2017
Release date: 04/01/2017
Genre: Fiction
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