Tremulous Hinge (Iowa Poetry Prize) (Paperback)

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Rain intermits, bus windows steam up, loved ones suffer from dementia—in the constantly shifting, metaphoric world of Tremulous Hinge, figures struggle to remain standing and speaking against forces of gravity, time, and language. In these visually porous poems, boundaries waver and reconfigure along the rumbling shoreline of Rockaway or during the intermediary hours that an insomniac undergoes between darkness and dawn. Through a series of self-portraits, elegies, and Eros-tinged meditations, this hovering never subsides but offers, among the fragments, momentary constellations: “moths all swarming the / same light bulb.”

From the difficulties of stuttering to teetering attempts at love, from struggling to order a hamburger to tracing the deckled edge of a hydrangea, these poems tumble and hum, revealing a hinge between word and world. Ultimately, among lofting waves, collapsing hands, and darkening skies, words themselves—a stutterer's maneuvers through speech, a deceased grandfather’s use of punctuation—become forms of consolation. From its initial turbulence to its final surprising solace, this debut collection mesmerizes. 

About the Author

ADAM GIANNELLI’s poems have appeared in the Kenyon Review,New England Review, Ploughshares, FIELD, Yale Review, and elsewhere. He is the translator of a selection of prose poems by Marosa di Giorgio, Diadem, and the editor of High Lonesome, a collection of essays on Charles Wright. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

Praise For…

Giannelli’s debut is a quiet affair, but its simplicity masks layers and a longing for precision exhibited through minute adjustments, tweaked phrases, and shifting imagery. This striving for fluency could have been born from the childhood speech impediment the poet reflects on poignantly in the opening poem: “since I can’t say everlasting/ I say everylost thing.” At the same time, Giannelli is preoccupied with double meanings. In “Star Gazers,” “we” look out at the stars, but they are looking right back at us. Metaphors are applied and swapped out, as in “Hydrangea,” where the flower is a snow cone, a “Bearded lady,// balloon man, chameleon,” “honeycomb/ and bouquet,” “viscous muscle,” and more. He contends with the limits of clarity using some quite brilliant anagrams and homonyms, as in “parents in the train window winnowed to transparence.” Sometimes Giannelli seems to pull stunning phrases whole from the ether, describing the tides as “the ocean tearing blue page after/ blue page from its journal.” He also explores grief through a document written by a deceased grandfather, its perplexities perhaps easier to contend with than those of life itself. Though perfect expression may be unattainable, poetry is often about the process, and it is a pleasure to watch Giannelli work (and rework) his magic.

““Stutter,” the first poem of this deftly observed debut collection, opens with the lines “since I couldn’t say tomorrow/ I said Wednesday” and continues affectingly through words substituted for those harder to utter until the final, lovely line, “a puddle shorn from the storm.” Here’s a man who’s really had to grapple with language, thinks the reader, and it shows.”—Library Journal
Product Details
ISBN: 9781609384869
ISBN-10: 1609384865
Publisher: University Of Iowa Press
Publication Date: April 15th, 2017
Pages: 90
Language: English
Series: Iowa Poetry Prize