The Clearing


The Clearing

“Astonishing and luminous . . . [The Clearing] is an alchemical feat, turning horror into beauty as Adair reveals what surges beneath—the violence, want, grief, thrill, and nameless fury.”—BOSTON GLOBE
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Finalist for the 2021 Housatonic Book Award in Poetry

Winner of the 2019 Max Ritvo Poetry Prize, The Clearing is “a lush, lyrical book about a world where women are meant to carry things to safety and men leave decisively” (Henri Cole).

Luminous and electric from the first line to the last, Allison Adair’s debut collection navigates the ever-shifting poles of violence and vulnerability with a singular incisiveness and a rich imagination. The women in these poems live in places that have been excavated for gold and precious ores, and they understand the nature of being hollowed out. From the midst of the Civil War to our current era, Adair charts fairy tales that are painfully familiar, never forgetting that violence is often accompanied by tenderness. Here we wonder, “What if this time instead of crumbs the girl drops / teeth, her own, what else does she have”?

The Clearing knows the dirt beneath our nails, both alone and as a country, and pries it gently loose until we remember something of who we are, “from before…from a similar injury or kiss.”

There is a dark beauty in this work, and Adair is a skilled stenographer of the silences around which we orbit. Described by Henri Cole as “haunting and dirt caked,” her unromantic poems of girlhood, nature, and family linger with an uncommon, unsettling resonance.

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8.5 × 6.5 × 0.25 in
6 oz

Originally from central Pennsylvania, Allison Adair now lives in Boston, where she teaches at Boston College and GrubStreet. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Best American Poetry, Best New Poets, and ZYZZYVA, among other journals; and have been honored with the Pushcart Prize, the Florida Review Editors’ Award, the Orlando Prize, and first place in Mid-American Review’s Fineline Competition. She is the author of the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize-winning collection, The Clearing, forthcoming June 2020

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Milkweed Staff – 10/25/2021

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