Like a Sea
when prompted by shopping cart
“On the shore between tragedy and comedy, the evocative and broken language of Like a Sea has the energy of someone trying to sing a hundred things at once and the sorrow of song vanishing as it’s made. Never still, each line surges and bulges beyond the decorums of conventional grammar, and even the quiet passages have a dynamic, rambunctious originality. This book is as refreshing as wave-crash and as forceful as undertow.”—Dean Young
“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. Amadon’s is among the most audacious, memorable, and uniquely beautiful debuts in recent memory.”—Timothy Donnelly, author, The Cloud Corporation
Drawing equally from Wallace Stevens, Gertrude Stein, John Berryman, and Robert Frost, Samuel Amadon’s award-winning Like a Sea is a collection of poems where personality is foregrounded and speech is both bizarre and familiar. Central to this weirdly talky work is “Each H,” a sequence of eleven monologues and dialogues wherein an unknown number of speakers examine their collective and singular identities while simultaneously distorting them. From a sequence of pared-down sonnets to a more traditional lyric to a procedural collage inspired by J. D. Salinger, Ezra Pound, Robert Lowell, Walter Benjamin, Jane Kenyon, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Primo Levi, Eugenio Montale, and Edwin Arlington Robinson, Like a Sea is a book of significant variation and originality.
Amadon’s electric collection begins with the line “I could not sound like anyone but me,” and through a wide range of forms and styles and voices he tests the true limits of that statement. The image of a half-abandoned Hartford, Connecticut, remains in the background of these poems, casting a tone of brokenness and haplessness. Ultimately Amadon’s poems present the confusion and fear of the current moment, of Stevens’s “river that flows nowhere, like a sea,” equally alongside its joyful ridiculousness and possibility. Rather than create worlds, they point out what a strange world already exists.
Each H (I) 3
Of Deadish New England Towns Sups the Incandescence 4
Each H (II) 5
North Meadows 6
Each H (III) 7
Quotes from the Hartford Poems 8
Each H (IV) 9
Touches the Helicopter 10
Each H (V) 12
A Discrete or Continuous Sequence of Measurable Events
Distributed in Time 13
The curtains are 15
Like an Evening 19
Each H (VI) 35
Pass-Pass, or All My Pulses 36
Archipelago This, Archipelago That 37
A Uselessness of Amadons 38
Each H (VII) 39
Uncomfortable Hand 40
Mum, Wag 41
North of Providence 42
Photography Doesn’t Exist 43
Each H (VIII) 44
Goodnight Lung 45
The Barber’s Fingers Move October 46
Each H (IX) 48
Each H (X) 49
Each H (XI) 55
What was drained is flooded and after comes 69
A mountain is 70
Fresh Warm 71
A Clean Shirt 73
My Hummel Is Self-Propelled Artillery 77
Nine at Nine 78
The Greenness of Grass Is a Positive Quality 80
Cognitive Burr 81
Photography Doesn’t Exist
My pants barely hold together & you
want me to know something. All I said
was the television provides much more.
Turn there. Wooden motorcycles & set
of someone else’s getaway. News has
maps of Georgia & stills from weather.
I have no money. I don’t know why bees
make love, but I’m sorry about the storm.
Thing now is to decide what to do with
all the water. I’d make airplanes so we
could expose distance as fraud. Hartford
has people everywhere: mountains,
prairies, Los Angeles. What do they say?
Where’s a tomato garden? I’ll bury one.