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Curses and Wishes: Poems (Walt Whitman Award) Paperback – April 22, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: Walt Whitman Award
  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press (April 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807137766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807137765
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,613,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Carl Adamshick received an Oregon Literary Fellowship from Literary Arts and is a cofounder of Tavern Books. His poems have appeared in the American Poetry Review, the Harvard Review, the Missouri Review, American Poet, and Narrative magazine.

Customer Reviews

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A poet to watch.
Shawn Sorensen
It isn't a big collection, this collection has been put together with a great deal of thought, so each poem provides a deep reading experience.
Thomas Lavoie
And then we may listen clearly to the music he has to say.
Rattler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jon Corelis on February 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
My first impressions when I began this book made me wish I could have liked it more than I did. The poetic quality of these verses is generally high, with clear imagery and a relative, and refreshing, absence of standard creative writing gimmicks (though not a complete absence: one poem, Pelican, for instance, begins with one of the most overused current verse gambits, the abruptly introductory Pronoun Mysterious set in the Landscape Poetic: "We walked in a light gray light / on the shore of the Pacific ..." And come to think of it, that close repetition of "light" in two different senses seems to me a mistake: if it's unintentional, it's inept; if intentional, I don't see the point.)

The pieces I thought most successful here were the pointed, imagistic ones like Compassion, beginning with the startling image of a whale's heart and ending with the memorable phrase that "her heart had become her burden." And other, longer pieces have similarly successful patches which might well have been allowed to stand alone as separate poems.

Which brings me to what I ultimately didn't like about many of these poems: they are simply too long to maintain unity and to give a proper poetic impact. Our Flag, for instance, is an interesting ecphrastic imagining of the symbolism of a flag for a nation which only implicitly exists: an innovative idea and well executed, but about a third of the way through its full two page length I found myself murmuring, "I get it, I get it!" Another example is The emptiness: the first two dozen lines are a vivid invocation of death in war as seen on TV, ending with the very effective image of a soldier's severed foot, which we are told in a memorable couplet, "was my brother's, / but couldn't remember his name.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rattler on August 22, 2011
Format: Paperback
My first encounter with the Portland poet Carl Adamshick's work was "Out past the dead end sign," a long poem in American Poetry Review in 2009. It's a poem of great sustain, its plain statement crossed with sinuous thinking, a mad dream and a sensible conversation at once. Yet as skilled as he is at the long poem, the shorter poems in his first book, Curses and Wishes (LSU Press, 2011, winner of the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets), are even more striking as bold, important announcements, aware of what poetry has done, and excited about what it has yet to do.

Any alert graduate of an American high school could place Curses and Wishes in the tradition of Winesburg, Ohio and Spoon River Anthology, sharing as it does a placid Midwestern surface that masks beneath it ambiguity and complexity, but this is really international poetry: its geography is really chorography, the study of what is unobserved and borderless. Adamshick dissolves America into a form, turns of thought, shapes in the air, with a subtly detached, dissident vision. The committed imagism of his short poems offers a percussive clarity, and like any rhythm is as much about its rests as about its notes: what is left out moves us as much, if not more than, what is left in.

Memoir

I feel something impossibly small
that might become pain

as I slide a piece of paper
under everything
my mother has said.

The title is partly tongue-in-cheek, referring to the vogue of memoir, and the tendency of contemporary poetry to be autobiographical, to distinguish the writer's life from the six billion others through details, sensation, and sentiment. Here, though, the structure and substance of memoir become one.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
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 FARM
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:

BENEVOLENCE
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.
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