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The Hartford Book (Cleveland State University Poetry Center)

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1880834978
ISBN-10: 1880834979
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"As in Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son, the landscape of poverty and drugs seems to grow characters and stories like no other--characters with names such as Brass, Okie, Legend, Hercules, and Joy--characters with maybe-fake cancer, ex-hockey players who like to expose themselves in bars, characters who shoot up water--and then absinthe--while attempting to detox." -- The Believer (Winner -- The Believer Poetry Book Award)

These poems are street-smart, buoyantly lyrical, and they possess something beautiful and permanent at their core. Samuel Amadon does for Hartford what Koch, Schuyler and O'Hara have done for New York City. --Tracy K. Smith

Most poetry written in what might be called the vernacular is evidently a stunt, and we soon weary of such prowess. Sam Amadon has no such self-congratulatory purpose; his speech is helplessly frank in its high and low spirits:My parents thought they d keep me safe / by sticking me in a private school, / but Hartford works its way in no matter / what you learn & this winter / I ve come to know the worst people / the city has in it... The poet is one of them, and suffers as much as any chronicler since Clough for his own pathetic (even ghastly) powers of presence: this is not memoir, it is confession, the speaker is on the rack and only timidly aware of the torture he cannot help wreaking. Our poetry will never be the same now Amadon has spoken, our language can be entirely different. Happily for us. --Richard Howard

Mesmerizing as well as desperate, a wild-eyed tour of a lesser hell. Amadon claims these poems are almost entirely true - if so, God help him, the truth has been transformed into poetry. Sam Amadon - even his name (like Jack Kerouac) is a song. Sing it. --Nick Flynn

Hartford has proved to be a continuing inspiration to poets, though the city of Amadon's second collection is a very different place from that of Wallace Stevens. My mother says Asylum Avenue s/ the wrong place to start, begins one early poem, because the neighborhood s still// too nice which makes me think/ my mother hasn't been/ paying attention and doesn't know// what drug dealers look like. In this plainspoken, youthful, but wearily cynical voice, Amadon (Like a Sea) offers a tour of Hartford s underbelly, street by street (many poems are titled with street names), where drugs, too little money, painful family lives, and his troubled post college roommate Kenny ( when// Kenny told me he loved me I told him to hold still/ because I had to dab a napkin at/ the cut in his scalp where our friend// Sully had stabbed him minutes before ) make it hard to imagine things getting much better. While the poems do have a sameness of voice and texture to them, this book depicts a life that s anything but enviable but mostly intoxicating to watch over Amadons shoulder; we feel as he comes to finally feel about Kenny: the truth is I never/ wanted him to get sober like nobody/ really wants any of us to get sober/ they just want to take/ the scarier ride one time & be gone. Reviewed on: 04/23/2012 --Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Samuel Amadon is the author of the poetry collection Like a Sea (University Of Iowa Press, 2010). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, A Public Space, Boston Review, DENVER QUARTERLY, Tin House, and elsewhere. He has received fellowships and scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. He lives in Houston.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cleveland State University Poetry Center
  • Paperback: 74 pages
  • Publisher: Cleveland State University Poetry Center (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1880834979
  • ISBN-13: 978-1880834978
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,681,941 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Sam's writing has a style and tone that is all his own. It is both educated and yet meditative while holding one foot entirely in the street. he has a great sense of humor as well, which poets either overdo or forget entirely-his writing is just right. I highly recommend this book as proof that modern poetry is far from dead and very much alive and kicking.
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This is an honest and true poet with a voice that wakes you from the slumber of "ho-hum I am bored with my life, but oh well..."
I heard Amadon on NPR too and tears came to my eyes when he read. I live in the sleepy "Quiet Corner" of Connecticut and Amadon's words broke through all the BS that the state lives by. So I ordered the book.

I am not disappointed in the book. His words grow stronger and ring louder through each poem. I am excited that there is a voice in American Poetry again that has the potential to "HOWL" like Allen Ginsberg. For too long we have languished with "poets" who cannot quite get the power behind their words.

Thank you Sam Amadon!
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Format: Paperback
This book reminds me that everyone is from the same place. Provided everyone is on a charter bus at 9AM pouring cheap rum on a collection of poems they'll be expected to read twelve hours later in an old dirty bar by the Delaware River. Amadon's poems are both down the block and out in space, just like an uncle who can be perfectly obtuse and wonderfully familiar at the same time.
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Format: Paperback
This incredible collection of poems made me want to move to Hartford just so I could leave it. Funny, abrasive, tender, and insightful, I think The Hartford Book is one of my favorite books published in recent memory.
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Meh. I listened to several poems read aloud on NPR's "Where We Live," thinking that perhaps the next one would be more appealing... but was disappointed. As these ought to have been the best poems in the volume, I was discouraged from picking up the complete collection. Granted, I am NOT a student of the "to produce art, you must suffer and inflict that suffering vicariously on your readers so that they will angst along with you" school of poetic expression... many people are, and those who want a memoir in the form of poetry examining one man's dour feelings about his hometown, viewed through the glass of a troubled period of his life, will likely be quite pleased with this indeed. Not that I'm a fan of Hartford and feel moved to defend it, mind; I simply prefer to read things that are a bit more cheerful, and look at even sour subjects with a more humorous, rather than sardonic, eye. If you've a more cultured taste for poetry than I have - meaning that you appreciate darkness and enjoy exploring its multilayered themes, or have the bitter sense of humor that seems so trendy and hip these days - you'll doubtless love this work. If you're a more positively-oriented person, whose poetic tastes run more towards Langston Hughes and his portrayal of the American city, look elsewhere.
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