A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World

“One of the best young American poets writing today.” —ALEX LEMON
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The haunting and crystalline poems in Adam Clay’s A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World examine the moment when solitude slips into separation, when a person realizes he can barely see the place he set out from, and must make his way back to the present.

Imagining the return to daily life as a negotiation between an inner world and the natural one, this collection tracks the subtly shifting tenors of thought that occur as the landscape around the speaker changes. In this journey, reverie can be a siren’s song, and Thoreau’s “border life” between civilization and wildness is realized in all its possibilities and difficulties. The resulting poems live somewhere between those of James Wright and John Ashbery: they seek wholeness even as they acknowledge that “a fragment is as complete as thought can be.”

Thoughtful and subtly complex, A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World is a collection filled with a generous gentleness—an attention to the world so careful it’s as if the mind is “washing each grain of sand.”

Publish Date
5.5 × 8.5 × 0.25 in
5.2 oz

Adam Clay

Adam Clay is the author of five collections of poems: Circle Back, To Make Room for the Sea, Stranger, A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World, and The Wash.

Praise and Prizes

  • “A remarkable exploration of the smallest human mysteries. These poems hover in and out of dreams, follow the mind’s wild wanderings, interrogate language, reveal the heart’s ambitions, all the while remaining brilliantly anchored to the physicality of all things earthbound. This is a book that lives as much in the curious mind as it does in the undeniable weather of the real world, and Adam Clay travels expertly between the two with a gentle, inspired grace.”

    Ada Limón
  • “What I love about these poems is that they are free of self-consciousness, sentient and surprising as only living things can be, intimate and compelling precisely because they don’t aim to please but to exist. In his own words, reading this book is like ‘centering yourself along unrecorded boundaries’ that Adam Clay has somehow managed to discern for us and translate into poems that are in turns clear and strange, and always warmly memorable.”

    Bob Hicok
  • “One of the best young American poets writing today, Adam Clay engages fully with the natural world: plumbing the rivers and climbing the trees of our daily life in his superb lyrical poems. He brings ‘the patient sadness that will outwait the memory of a spark’ to life in precise swirls of language. Each poem shimmers with physical and metaphysical insight, and Clay’s endless storms and seasons resonate with wisdom and music. This is a brilliant collection of poems.”

    Alex Lemon
  • “Adam Clay locates the poetic realm at the very limit of what is known, a hotel teetering on the flat world’s precipice, where every visitor is temporary. These poems sing themselves through their own complications, searching for that beautiful order language has no part of, but only language can reveal. Poetic quest evolves into the responsibility of poetic question. ‘May I for a moment be nervous,’ the poet asks. The answer in the poems themselves is their wondrous nerve.”

    Dan Beachy-Quick
  • “At the edge of the world, you’ll want to have this book… . Few people could write a better poetic line than Adam Clay does.”

    Iowa City Press-Citizen
  • “Immediately striking about the poems in Adam Clay’s second book is their lack of self-consciousness… . This poet locates himself at the borders between nature and language, solitude and community, the physical and metaphysical where paradox and fragmentation are at once evaded and embraced.”

    Publishers Weekly