~by Katherine Indermaur, Managing Editor, Center for Literary Publishing
On Colorado State’s campus, the Center for Literary Publishing’s (CLP) interns work under the guidance of director and editor-in-chief Stephanie G’Schwind to publish new collections of poetry every year.
Furthest Ecology, by Adam Fagin, is the CLP’s most recent book, published in February 2019. It’s part of the Mountain West Poetry Series, which was launched in January 2011 with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to publish two original poetry collections every year by poets living in the Mountain West region (Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico). English graduate students interning at the CLP copyedited the manuscript, typeset the book, proofread the pages, and designed the cover.
The book takes up the life and labor of Abbott Thayer, a nineteenth-century American painter and naturalist nicknamed “the father of camouflage.” Fagin’s poetry follows Thayer through his work as an artist, the grief of losing his wife to disease, and an increasingly frenzied and obsessive existence. Fagin’s language is stunningly spare, as in the poem “T’s Law,” which was first published in the literary journal Conjunctions:
If among the waxwing’s flight, I describe unbroken light, I describe
water among the sleep of birds. A wingbeat governing swift fluidities
of form. Dear precious, dear dearest: Here I seize on a sea a pure
white vessel’s breaking. Over many days mistaken for a cloud, a
man’s eye creeps up the branches, eats the gray buds. He thinks
of white as his sun at night. Has he ever thought his impressions
are born? Pouring his confinement through a moon’s milk stare,
first daylight drains this strange bird: attention residing in a nexus
of recurrence. Old ideas that cause the mind to live among bright
objects—but only as a means of concealment. Each glance is a
distance I simulate. When I require a political economy, I look
directly at the sun. Sucked through September’s pulse, a solar hinge
no hand can touch, sound ascends daylight. The eye is made aware.
The boundary is birdsong filled with ghostly listening. Or the color
of the sea approaching the clairvoyance of the artist’s attention.
Weaving his periscope from the dark of inquiry, it is made vessel by
faintly visible seashore. A painter is the world conscious that light
belongs there. Reductio ad absurdum. Until a parallel ear forgets. A
duplicate canvas engulfs silhouette with particle fire. Here a moment
of sculpture tears off its crisscross veil. Monadnock, my mountain
home: These rocks are thresholds that multiply Praxiteles. Where
dewdrops further elucidate the majority of tulips, root outweighs
flower head, twilight, Promethea Sphinx. In the absolute detail it
descends, a leaf’s inverted vernacular. Out of which one ruptured
katydid proceeds, eternally convex, transverse, beneath a breath of
moonshine and meadow grass, a shadow’s arrowy vehemence.
“A Mountain in Several Brushstrokes,” which first appeared in New American Writing, reaches across the page and through seeing itself:
In March, Adam Fagin traveled from his home in Denver to read at CSU for the Creative Writing Reading Series. During his visit, the editors of the Colorado Review podcast conducted a wonderful interview with Adam, which you can listen to here.
In other CLP book news, this year’s Colorado Prize for Poetry has just concluded, and final judge Kazim Ali has selected Brandon Krieg’s Magnifier as the 2019 winner from nearly 700 entries from all over the world. Look for that title this coming November!