cover image Hello Sunshine

Hello Sunshine

Ryan Adams, . . Akashic, $24.95 (280pp) ISBN 978-1-933354-96-5

Ryan Adams is among his generation's most gifted and important singer/songwriters. Just into his 30s, Adams has already released a dozen albums jammed with soul-stirring songs and frighteningly precise lyrics about love, loss, and youthful wildness. Unfortunately, these distinctions and qualities do not translate to his poetry, which seems to be more a kind of performative journaling than an attempt at high art. But perhaps that's a kind of poetry too. If so, it's poetry in the manner of late Charles Bukowski—alternately ecstatic, drunken, droll, bewildered, jokey—and will appeal to a similar audience: teenagers looking for a guide through the confusing maze of adolescence. Adams's many rabid fans will find much to enjoy in this second collection, following right on the heels of his poetry debut, Infinity Blues (2009). Adams takes his readers through his crazy days, high on adrenaline (“bicyclemad/ born dizzy/ i am/ flying off the cliff of panic hill”), praising the beloved (“i love her/ my bug/ she knows...”) and finding the symbolism in the everyday: “the sky.../...just got back from the grocery store, smiling/ new particles to add to the table of contents/ in some lunar book/ written in wishes.” (Dec.)