Often, Common, Some, and Free offers lyrical meditations on a world and self in constant flux
Samuel Amadon, Associate Professor of English and director of the MFA Program at UofSC, has published his latest book of poetry, Often, Common, Some, And Free (Omnidawn 2021). The publisher describes this as “a book about transformation. Moving across varied formal and aesthetic terrains, these poems take on the subject of change… The speaker is in movement—walking, flying, swimming, and taking the train, while also constantly twisting in his sentences, turning into different versions of himself, and braiding his voice with others.” The subjects of these poems include “Robert Moses’s career transforming the cityscape of New York” and “the robbery of works from Boston’s Gardner Museum.”
The praise for this latest collection has been effusive.
“I soaked up these poems like a character wandering from pool to pool in a John Cheever story. I dove into them as into an enchanted David Hockney swimming pool painting. Samuel Amadon immerses you in the ‘advanced fantasies’ of a silver-tongued poet. Meaning is never exactly narrative. It’s saturated with vernacular fluency, lyrical acuity, expressive idiosyncrasy. You simply have to read this fascinating book to grasp its mercurial energies, its enigmatic clarity. Often, Common, Some, And Free is remarkable and wonderfully irreducible.’”
-- Terrance Hayes, author of American Sonnets
“These poems Beatrice us into an infrastructure-past, natter us through a not-so-grand civic grandeur that’s something like a citizenship stolen from us before we were ever born. You might want to chlorinate your feet after you break open this spine—it seems every genius has a red velvet swing to hide. Get your coffee to go.”
-- Magdalena Zurawski, author of The Tiniest Muzzle Sings Songs of Freedom
“The figure who wanders the streets of New York, in Amadon’s latest book, can’t help but see, behind every edifice—including his own self—the demolition required to build any site. Welded by reverie and hypotheses, enjambment and psychogeography, these lyrics act less like frozen music, as composed by Robert Moses, than scaffolding. Reading them is akin to sandblasting a façade while treading a relay of boards, casually vertiginous and ‘belilaced’ by a botany of asphalt and human sprawl. Their logic and syntax are potholed and cracked, coaxing us to look down, as well as up, as we follow no map. Taxis and swimming pools, turnstiles and bridges, lovers in coffee shops: ‘the city is an idea,’ our guide proposes, continuing where O’Hara and Oppen left off, an opening crossed by the mind and feet in sync, or syncopation. Now concerted, now astray, the score for this Gotham eclogue is a bewildering, weirdly infectious tinnitus, ‘ringing everywhere for me / too.’”
-- Andrew Zawacki, author of Unsun: f/11
Amadon is the author of several other books: Listener (Solid Objects 2020), The Hartford Book (Cleveland State 2012), winner of the Believer Poetry Book Award, and Like a Sea (Iowa 2010), winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, Poetry, American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and Lana Turner. He is the author of four chapbooks, including Each H from Ugly Duckling Presse. He is an equally prolific critic and regularly reviews poetry in venues such as The Believer, Boston Review, Lana Turner: a journal of poetry and opinion, and Rain Taxi. In addition, he edits the poetry journal Oversound with Liz Countryman.