Grady's Reviews > Curses and Wishes: Poems

Curses and Wishes by Carl Adamshick
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's review
Jul 06, 2011

it was amazing

Whispers and Other Focused Thoughts

Carl Adamshick was the winner of The Walt Whitman Award for this glowing little book of poems, CURSES AND WISHES. For those who may not have heard, 'The Walt Whitman Award brings first-book publication, a cash prize of $5,000, and a one-month residency at the Vermont Studio Center to an American who has never before published a book of poetry. The winning manuscript, chosen by an eminent poet, is published by Louisiana State University Press. The Academy purchases copies of the book for distribution to its members.' The judge in this case was Marvin Bell, the first Poet Laureate of the State of Iowa. His judgment is sound: this book of poems is from rarified air and the poetic future of Carl Adamshick seems secure.

Adamshick writes with an economy of words and shapes those few words into breeze-like rustles that stick in the mind long after the poem is read. Not one to perseverate over choices of words to define his thought, he simply states in a near gentle conversation, sharing little bits of emotion that are so distilled that they become like rare liqueurs.

The broken stile is covered in leaves.
Once I sat there and felt
I was the snow
holding the family's footprints.

So much is said in so little space. That is not always the case, as in 'The Emptiness' in which he spreads his thoughts about war and the devastation that follows in a manner that is almost painful to read. And yet death is not fearful for him as in:

We took your food and in a few days
you'll see we took your excrement.

We've devised such intricate rules.

We took your pain, your dignity.
We took your language and watched
as religion fell from you.

We took your death,
strung it as a jewel on a silver chain
and showed it to you
as just another thing you don't have.

This book is full of poems such as these, poems that distill feelings and thoughts we thought ere only ours - unable to be expressed - until Carl Adamshick showed us how. This is a treasure box, delicate and wondrous.

Grady Harp
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