Listener suggests the future of poetry
The poems in Samuel Amadon’s daring new collection, Listener, explore subjects as varied as art, domesticity, memory, night walking, voting, the future, and the Congaree National Park. What unites them is their active lyric and innovative prosody, as well as the relationship they build between speaker and addressee. Listener is the third book by Amadon, UofSC professor of English and Director of the MFA in Creative Writing. Amadon’s work has been awarded the Iowa Poetry Prize and the Believer Poetry Book Award. His poems have appeared in the New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Kenyon, Ploughshares, the Nation, and elsewhere.
Praise for Amadon’s work:
Listener bristles with disquiet, its lines a disquisition on the existential situation of the person who listens so hard to himself, “I found everything / Felt like my head.” Emerging from “The empty moment before my face surfaces / Before I find I’ve started the whole thing again,” these poems never escape knowing “Here I am…I’m no place new,” but they go on to make of thought such an affable trap that we enjoy the sound of it snapping shut on us, too. Each poem makes play out of self’s inevitable self-consciousness—“how I saw myself as my own / Toy”—and plumbs the remarkable capacities of poetic language for representation and plasticity, fact and fancy, imagistic precision and prosodic invention. The resulting music brings readers paradoxically back to themselves, to those moments when “I have a voice I can sometimes find / when my head’s in a book, distracted and aware.”
It is his candid modesty that allows Amadon to escape Whitman’s paradox of containing multitudes. In other words, instead of rooting his poetics in a monomaniac obsession with subjectivity that often denies individual mobility within the context of our roles in society, Amadon allows himself and his readers to explore our shared objectivity…. In Listener, narrow paths and dictated borders become spaces of possibilities, become virgules gesturing to a potentiality we can feel but not name—at least for now.
—Anneysa Gaille, The Brooklyn Review
The radical new idiom and sleights of logic in Samuel Amadon’s Like a Sea suggest a legacy of poetic innovators as disparate as Gertrude Stein and John Berryman, while its commitment to following the mind’s foul work and hard play through the world it finds itself in—where ‘everything is a surface passing’—is boldly, passionately traditional. The mind in question happens to be as quirky, intelligent, wise, hopeful, and hilarious as they come, and Like a Sea is a shining example of what a mind like that can do when it steers true to itself and its calling.
Listener is published by Solid Objects Press.