A State,

A Statue,

A Statute

By Adam Abbas

Reviewed by Jorge Antonio Vallejos

Alabaster marbles carry blood inside.

Alabaster marbles carry blood inside.

Alabaster marbles carry blood inside.

I can still hear Adam Abbas’ deep voice as he read his poem 1995 at a bar in the Annex late last summer.  He was nervous before stepping on stage.  He didn’t need to be.  Adam was one of the best poets that night.  He read his carefully crafted poetry and received praise from the packed house. 

Deserved praise.  

Abbas’ deep voice matched his writing.  I sat at my table thinking this guy is good.  This guy will put a book out one day.  And here it is: A State, A Statue, A Statute.  A  chapbook held together by thread and reinforced by strong words making up different styles of poetry: prose, villanelles, haiku. 

You have to read and re-read Abbas’ poems so as to really understand what he’s saying to you.  And even then you still might not get it.  I didn’t understand everything Abbass was trying to tell me, and I’m OK admitting that.

Love Stories is one such poem that I enjoyed and did not fully understand.  Filled with “annals of history” and literature from Macbeth to the “New Age Neo-Nazi” movement, I’d have to Google lots of names and words to grasp the poem in it’s entirety.  Still, I was entertained, and into the poem, because Abbas was singing to me as I read it.  Each stanza has rhymes that are not cheesy and they end with an ellipsis that leaves you wanting more, hence you read the next stanza, and so on.

Love Stories is also an example of a poem that shows Abbas is well read.  In seven short paragraphs Abbas fills you with lessons that would take a long time to learn.  He pours out his knowledge on the page in a humble way and ends with “we are all misunderstood”.  

Again, I didn’t get it but I stuck it out because Abbas walked beside me as we traveled through time in stories some way related to love.

Pentimenti, another poem about love, this time about the loss of love, once again shows the depth of Abbas’ writing.  Pentimenti is defined as an underlying image in a painting, as an earlier painting, part of a painting, or original draft, that shows through, usually when the top layer of paint has become transparent with age.  

Abbas takes you to the good times of rooftop parties, laughter, a little erotic intimacy—“my desire to nibble on her earlobe”—and then the sad present:

Not able to forget the dreams of running into each other on the street

Dreams of glances from afar, and what they could mean.

Abbas does what a good writer does, he makes himself vulnerable on the page.  In Pentimenti, another well crafted poem, I felt Abbas.  How could you not?  He puts shame aside and reveals what all lovesick people do: dream of the possibility to get back with someone. 

You not only read Abbas’ pain, you feel it.  And you can see him in the “loneliness” he write of:

I only sit in the middle of a room, battling the obscene

Like the title of the poem, Abbas’ transparency is what makes the images he brings to us beautiful.

Although I did not understand all I read in A State, A Statue, A  Statute it was a welcome change from what I usually read and review.  And that’s what blackcoffeepoet.com is about: learning. 

Abbas, although a fellow young poet, challenged me, taught me, and entertained me; good writers do that.

And I’ll always remember Abbas’ voice:

Alabaster marbles carry blood inside.

Alabaster marbles carry blood inside.

Alabaster marbles carry blood inside.

Tune into Black Coffee Poet Wednesday March 7, 2012 for an inclusive interview with Adam Abbas.


About Black Coffee Poet

Black Coffee Poet is a mixed race poet, essayist, and journalist who focuses on Social Justice, Indigenous Rights, STOPPING Violence Against Women, Film, and Literature.
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  1. Pingback: INTERVIEW WITH ARAB POET ADAM ABBAS | Black Coffee Poet

  2. Pingback: ARAB POET ADAM ABBAS READS HIS POETRY | Black Coffee Poet

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