Adam Clay is the author of four collections of poems: To Make Room for the Sea, 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. He is editor of Mississippi Review, a coeditor of Typo Magazine, and a book review editor for Kenyon Review. He teaches in the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi.
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Books by Adam Clay
Author Q & A
Stranger is your third published book of poetry. How have you seen your writing evolve? What can readers expect from this new book?
I’ve tried to do different things in all of my books. With The Wash, my first collection, the personal was embedded deeply within persona—in many ways, I felt strange bringing the personal into my work unless it was explored through other voices. I suppose it felt strange to use the “I” as myself because I felt young and as if I lacked life experience. What, after all, could I offer? I was also working against the Southern tradition of narrative/story-telling I had explored as an undergraduate in Mississippi—I wanted to consider more lyrical work, alongside formal poems. It just felt like it was time to do something new. In my second collection, A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World, there was a definite shift from this hidden personal voice to a more direct use of “I” as myself as poet within the book. The poems in this second book were deeply influenced by the work of Larry Levis in terms of line and form, but I also wanted a more narrative approach as well. I’m not sure how or why I shifted to a more personal voice. In some ways I returned to the narrative tradition because of my time in the Midwest—it felt like I had to write about what I was seeing around me. For my third book, I made a conscious effort to write longer poems to explore this form and what it might allow. The new book is a deeply personal book, and writing longer poems led me to explore poetry as a subject matter, along with notions of a shifting identity, domesticity, and the political, as well. [Read more on Third Coast.]