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Curses and Wishes by Carl Adamshick

Curses and Wishes by Carl Adamshick uses an economy of words to address the harrowing moments of life and the happier moments.  His images are unique and playful, but his subjects are sometimes dark and eerie, like the barren tree with its barely there spinal column of vertebrae on the cover.  From “Even Though” (page 1-3), “I felt the deep bruise of a sentence/and wanted to eat/at the banquet of silence.”  Which are the curses and which are the wishes is left up to the reader, but some poems are clearly laments for those dying in the Holocaust (like the poem “The book of Nelly Sachs“) or lost by other means.

Adamshick clings to the moment, a snatch of time and draws out the undercurrent of meaning, creating a story from the unknown.  Unlike, Whitman, who used nature in his poems to extrapolate wider philosophical realities of transcendentalism, Adamshick’s poems combine industrial elements from street lights to chessboard pieces and cameras to evoke emotion and recognition in the reader, creating an Aha moment.  “The corner utility pole/holds a cone of light/to its mouth// and is screaming/at the pavement.// We are almost here/”  (page 38 from “Almost”)  However, like Whitman, there is a sense of moving beyond, gaining insight into humanity and stretching ourselves further.

Junkyard (page 7)

I never visit my younger self.
Any change I elicit
would be just that: change.
Something different in a world
of differences. A shifting
from memory to dream. Snow
falling in a barrel of rusted
engine parts becoming a day
of lightning and old fallen oak:
one life or another, mine or yours.
This is the last outpost before
things become what they are.
I was eleven when an older self,
the lord of my childhood, appeared
above the chair in my room
splendid and silent like a planet
rotating, spinning in its ellipses,
but, also, unmoving by the headboard
and the one pillow full of feathers.

There is a quiet power in these poems and this slim volume, which leave readers waiting to devour more from Adamshick.  Many of the poems are about change and what it means to be changed and keep moving onward and upward.  However, “Junkyard” raises another question about change — is change always beneficial and new or is it just a reincarnation of something that came before?  Can we really transcend the present and these bodies we inhabit?  Curses and Wishes by Carl Adamshick is a clear winner and would be an excellent candidate for the Indie Lit Awards.  Another one for the Best of List of 2011.

Copyright Jessie Sue Hibbs

About the Poet:

Born in Toledo, Ohio, Carl Adamshick grew up primarily in Harvard, Illinois.

Adamshick currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with his partner of many years, Jessie Sue Hibbs.

Curses and Wishes by Carl Adamshick won the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets and was published by independent press Louisiana State University Press.  It is Adamshick’s first poetry collection; please check out this Oregonian article about his win.  (I received this book as a member of the Academy of American Poets, but not for review.)

 

This is my 33rd book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.

 

 

This is my 18th book for the Fearless Poetry Exploration Reading Challenge.

  • The cover caught my eye right away. I’m kind of nervous when I hear talk about Whitman and trancendentalism…sounds so over my head. But you’ve made me curious about this collection.

    • I really enjoyed this collection, and I don’t think its over your head.

  • As you know I’m not much for poetry but this collection intrigues me. First off the title and cover really caught my attention but I love the piece you posted as well.

    • I’m glad the review and book cover intrigued you. I think you’ll have to check it out. I really enjoyed the quiet power of this collection.

  • Now that I’ve come to realize that I can enjoy poetry, I need to try more of it. This sounds like a collection I would enjoy.

    • If you do pick it up, be sure to let me know how you like it even if you don’t review it.

  • Interesting review. Have gone back reviewing my poetry manuscript. thanks for the heads up

    • glad to hear you are working on your poetry manuscript. I’ve taken a break from mine and am working on perfecting a short story submission –whatever perfecting may mean is anyone’s guess. LOL