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Adam Clay

Connection to Illinois: Clay taught at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Biography: Adam Clay is the author of three collections of poems: Stranger, A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World, and The Wash. His poems have appeared in Tin House, Ploughshares, Denver Quarterly, Georgia Review, Crazyhorse, Bennington Review, and jubilat, and online at Poetry Daily and the Poem-a-Day project of the Academy of American Poets. For twenty years, he co-edited Typo Magazine, a journal of poetry and poetics. He is editor of Mississippi Review and directs the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi.


Primary Literary Genre(s): Poetry

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World: Poems
ISBN: 1571314415 OCLC: 794493994

Milkweed Editions, Minneapolis : 2012.

The distilled, haunting, and subtly complex poems in Adam Clay's A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World often arrive at that moment when solitude slips into separation, when a person suddenly realizes he can barely see the place he set out from however long ago. He now sees he must find his connection back to the present, socially entangled world in which he lives. For Clay, reverie can be a siren's song, luring him to that space in which prisoners will begin to interrogate themselves.. Clay pays attention to the poet's return to the world of his daily life, tracking the subtly shifting teno.

Circle Back: Poems
ISBN: 1639550984 OCLC:

Milkweed Editions 2024

How does one make sense of loss—personal and collective? When language and memory are at capacity, where do we turn? Confronted with “a year meant to end all / those to come,” acclaimed poet Adam Clay questions whether anything is “wide enough to contain what’s left / of hope.” In the absence of a clear way forward, the poems of Circle Back wander grief’s strange and winding path. Along the way, the line between reality and dreams blurs: cows stare with otherworldly eyes, 78s play under cactus needles, a father becomes his own child, and the dead become something more complicated—a “sketch turned to painting / left in a room dusty from / lack of passing through.”But amidst these liminal landscapes, a “thread of promise” persists in poetry. As flawed as language is, we still turn to it for longevity, for love, like “Keats, / sketching himself back into place.” Vulnerable and nuanced, Clay details the difficult work of healing—and in doing so, captures those needful moments of reprieve in grief’s “strange circle.” Two friends dashing through a sprinkler. A garden of startled birds. Out for a run some gray morning: a sudden patch of wildflowers. Circle Back is a bared heart, one readers will find as thoughtful as it is tender.

Stranger: Poems
ISBN: 1571314636 OCLC: 945632710

Milkweed 2016

“Heartbreakingly stunning.” —ADA LIMÓNElegant and contemplative, Adam Clay’s third collection of poems explores what it means for our lives to change—dwelling on the moments decisions are made, and the repercussions we grow with afterward.A move. A new job. The birth of a child. In these intimate, bewildering developments—as familiar as the houses and ever-changing as the lakes and rivers that populate these poems—Clay finds that the only map available is “not of the world / but of the path I took to arrive in this place / a map with no real definable future purpose.” Yet in these changes Clay reveals joy and wonder, staring into the heart of transition and finding in it the wisdom that “Despite our best efforts to will it shut / the proof of the world’s existence / can best be seen in its insistence / in its opening up.” Deeply rooted in beauties both domestic and wild—capturing the richest elements of the earth and the instability of a shifting sky—Stranger collapses the past and the future into the lived moment, allowing for an unclouded view of a way forward.

The Wash (Free Verse Editions)
ISBN: 193255999X OCLC: 71800725

Parlor Press, West Lafayette, Ind. : ©2006.

Poetry. Rich in river imagery and an intense sense of the passage of time, THE WASH explores the incessant music that permeates journeys with a destination unknown. Interweaving the voices of John Clare, Audubon, Roethke, and others, the poems depict a landscape of loss in which language and images provide the only concrete platform on which to stand. Ending with an elegy for the self-portrait and an acceptance of the inevitability of decay, the speaker discovers

To Make Room for the Sea
ISBN: 1571314970 OCLC: 1112281368

Milkweed West Lafayette, Ind. : 2020

To Make Room for the Sea is a collection of reflective poems about personal and environmental loss, and hope for the future--