I lose books sometimes. Subway platforms, in the seat pockets on the plane, under friends couches. I try not to get to bent about it when it happens. I figure there was a reason the book left me before I had a chance to finish it. It was needed elsewhere. The universe heard someone’s plea for good reading, so the book cemented itself down and I moved on.
This happened with “Adam Robison and Other Poems by Adam Robinson.” It cemented itself somewhere, underneath a chair, I assume, according to the whims of the universe, and I kept walking. But I was really enjoying that book a lot. So I said, “You know what, Universe? Not this time,” and I went onto Narrow House and bought myself another copy. I usually don’t do this when I lose a book. I see it as a sign that it was probably in my best interests to lose the book, like if I’d kept it I would be reading and walking somewhere and get hit by a bus.
Still, I threw caution to the wind. I took my life in my own hands and I clicked “order.” Sometimes the universe tests you, to see how much you really care about something. It tests your will and fortitude. Not because the universe is trying to be a dick or anything, but to teach you something about yourself that maybe you didn’t know before. Or maybe to remind you of something you needed to be reminded of.
How often do people talk about the volume of a voice? I love these poems because they shout. They shout cause the PA is broken, so the folks in back can hear. Volume can sometimes be grating, but when the subjects you’re writing about are love, friendship and influential historical figures, that volume can wake the audience up.
There’s a recent Paper Cuts post that talks about the relevance of poetry. It’s an enlightening read, well worth you time, but I bring it up because of a David Foster Wallace quote that gets invoked:
“I think avant-garde fiction has already gone the way of poetry. And it’s become involuted and forgotten the reader. Put it this way, there are a few really good poets who suffered because of the desiccation and involution of poetry, but for the most part I think American poetry has gotten what it’s deserved. And, uh, it’ll come awake again when poets start speaking to people who have to pay the rent.”
Robinson’s poetry hasn’t forgotten the reader. In fact, it’s shouting at the reader, asking, “Will you please live your life?” asking them “Will you please recognize the beauty that is around you? Will you please wake up and live and love and get hurt and laugh and then love some more?” This is why I’m not that upset I lost my first copy of this book. These are sentiments that need spreading. And the universe knows that.