by Dave Adamshick
The most admirable part about what my brother has accomplished is that Carl worked and worked at his craft, at his art even when there was no earthly reason to keep doing so. There was no grade at the end of the semester, no calls or emails promising publication, no paycheck waiting every other week – he worked to improve, to express himself better, to make his work as pure as how he feels and imagines it.
There is something else laudable that comes with the publication of Curses and Wishes. Not exactly a prodigy, Carl claims he was 21 before he completed his first book – reading one, not writing one. (Actually, unless you are a fireman, veterinarian or drive a garbage truck, I am pretty disgusted by people who tell me they knew exactly what they wanted to be when they grew up by age 6.) But as a reader, I always love that fact that anyone, at any moment of their lives can pick up a book and by the last page understand that they need to start a business, resume their education or obsess on a subject as only an autodidact can. The world of possibility resides in our ability to dedicate ourselves to our imagination and goals – it is good to hear the tale of someone who has met success by being inspired and following through.
The resulting poetry is singular. Marvin Bell, who selected Curses and Wishes for the 2010 Walt Whitman Award says, “This tone of voice, Carl Adamshick, is a new one, a voice that cannot be faked and bears the marks of having been earned.” Mr. Bell also describes Carl’s tone as “cool and mysterious” and this might be true but I have known him far too long to be able to think either of those things about him.
Carl’s friend and fellow poet, Matthew Dickman, explains Carl’s work in a different manner, “He is a poet rarely found these days. He comes not from the land of MFA and writing programs, but from the outsider country of a self-made artist.” The resulting body of work where an education comes from living and working and in turn, art – creating and participating is both an escape and exploration of what it means to live and work. Curses and Wishes is an effort to connect to world around us, rather than explain how we feel. That goes beyond being admirable, that is an example to all of us.
Carl Adamshick is the co-founder of Tavern Books. He is 2010 winner of the Walt Whitman Award and the William Stafford poet-in-residence at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. His work has been published in Harvard Review, American Poetry Review, The Missouri Review and Narrative.