EVER: Poems 2000-2014 by Ralph Adamo

SKU: 9781935084556

Ever is a collection of poems begun at the turn of the 21st century, composed and revised through the beginning of the year 2013. In this, his 7th collection and his first following Waterblind: New & Selected Poems (2002),
Ralph Adamo writes about and through wars, hurricanes, issues as common
and profound as work and time, and endurance of every sort. He writes
as well as about becoming a father after age 50 and raising two children
in a time of transition and conflict. The patterns and forms of these
poems vary from tightly controlled couplets through prose poetry and
various experimental turns of language. At times painfully lucid, at
times opaque, often simultaneously personal and universal, Adamo’s poems
seek that most elusive goal: truth as far as language can pursue it,
and while truth may remain unfathomable and inexpressible, these poems
never waver in their seeking.
Praise for Ralph Adamo and Ever
An I relays the story in its not-story way. With traces of
story. The sound is uniquely of its city in a nearly, not-named way.
Attuned to its humidfied breezes and the fan blade’s indispensable
turning. Home is the sole locale, the nucleus, ever so. The voice
struggles ‘to end its own noise,’ not to inventory only regrets and
losses, rattled and battered; cycling through the dead, friends and kin,
pictures, ‘the stalactites of memory’ and bars in which years must have
passed, stumbled through, a survivor, “godly,/of one mind, learning too
late whatever/was on offer, outlasting fabulous destinies…” A work, a
worksong, not of an illusory life, but of a life, in a body, a family,
on wheels, rubber-side down, that works, miraculously.—C.D. Wright, author of One With Others, National Book Critics Circle Award winner.
 Ralph Adamo has lived his three-score-plus years in New Orleans.  To say that the poems in Ever
are about that city of the dead, the dying, and the coming-to-be would
be a great disservice.  These are the poems of man who has become his
city.  To be sure, the jazz, the floods, the drunks, and the turbulence
of despair are here, but they exist in the words of one who has absorbed
them into himself. If “the blinked-smile the non-survivor wears /
toward peace” describes one overwhelmed by it all, Adamo, ever looking
forward, brings comfort, like words whispered in the ear of a drowsy
child.—R.S. (Sam) Gwynn, author of No Word of Farewell: Poems 1970-2000.
 Reading Ralph Adamo’s poetry puts you in a courtly brooding world
where the truth comes driving through the gloom like elegance. You
picture him “standing absolutely motionless at a slight angle to the
universe,” as E.M. Forster described Cavafy.—Nancy Lemann, author of Lives of the Saints and Ritz of the Bayou. 
For more than forty years, while “arguing words against / The
constant threat: forgetting,” Ralph Adamo has published poems as
original as any I know. In his seventh collection, Ever, in which
sometimes “a word is as far from a fact / as fever can burn it,” a
speaker whittles “the little lies down to / The nuance of perfect teeth
in a closed mouth.” Another speaker whispers to his young children, “My
children are exhausting” and “’riddle’ means ‘dark language’” in order
to help spirit them to bed. In another poem, retrospection makes a
speaker “sag like an old bookshelf and sigh like the door beyond it.”
And in another, a speaker prays for adolescent boys in their
lostness—“world without hearing, amen.” Such phrasings hint at greater
recognitions to come—for instance, that poetry is “just listening to the
world.” What may be most original and satisfying about the thirteen
years of poems in Ever is that reading and rereading them is to
experience the art and diverse craft of a master, one who would wince at
the accolade and never accept it.—Randy Bates, author of Rings: On the Life and Family of a Southern Fighter. 
In Ever, Ralph Adamo has focused his poetic lens on the
small moments that make life bittersweet and profound. Whether he is
describing the banter of children at play or words uttered on a
deathbed, Adamo puts the reader in the room and hands him a magnifying
glass. The poet is asking us to watch life closely as it swiftly passes.
He gives very specific metaphors of pain, familiar to any New
Orleanian “like stinging caterpillars down from ghostly cocoons en masse
to prey on the bare feet of us all.” The book contains many precisely
chosen words and well-considered passages. But he also offers some less
concrete, more esoteric and slightly sardonic observations “Some things
have always fallen through time and space to land god knows where.”
Adamo writes confidently about the value in dysfunction and
skeptically about pure redemption. “I was going to get older someday. I
was going to blame somebody.” Sometimes the work seems so personal that
it should be reworked in the reader’s mind. In “Visiting the Marker,
After the Flood,” the narrator asks “What did you expect to happen
clawing through the chicken wire at the top of the 20th century.” To
understand this poem about death and life, the reader must step back and
watch the words flow past.
Adamo’s narrator laments the people who have disappeared without
ceremony. He names them in a list broken by undisguised feelings – among
them that he cannot properly remember all the names. But the spirits of
the dead emerge and disappear throughout the book, allowing readers the
experience of tangible and fleeting memories too.
Written in dense beautiful language, Ever is about temporal, conscious and self-conscious experiences. Underlying Ever
is a question of whether we will find the perfect afterlife. This is a
book without any neat, simple answers. Still, Adamo seems to be telling
us that happily ever after, our Ever, is here.—Fatima Shaik, author of Melitte and On Mardi Gras Day.


Ever by Ralph Adamo
Price: $16.00