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CATAFALQUE by Adam Tavel

CATAFALQUE by Adam Tavel

Contributor, Adam Tavel won the Richard Wilbur Award (judged by Erica Dawson) with his third collection, Catafalque. A poem from this collection, "Dateline," appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of the Gettysburg Review.

Maggie Smith says of Tavel's newest collection, "In Catafalque, Adam Tavel makes iambs sizzle. The poems are formal but never confined by tradition; they're elevated and energized by meter and rhyme rather than slavish to it.

Catafalque is steeped in elegy, with speakers as varied as Joan of Arc's executioner."

From the publisher: "In Catafalque, the poet dazzles his readers with a kaleidoscopic range of subjects. In odes to expletives, washcloths, imaginary men, and touch tone phones; in poems about Eazy-E, family, Elvis, Phineas Gage, He-Man, and Prince; and in meditations on the shapes that life and death impose on us all, he brings us face to face with the beautiful and the bitter. Yet when he speaks of death, of all those borne upon the catafalque, it is for him only an opportunity to explore the Ovidian transformations that ripple outward from those moments. For example, in 'Son Net,' 'The day my youngest child became a net / witless villagers scooped his diamond holes / and cast them at the sea,' the father too dives in and turns to silvered scales....' Likewise, in 'Elegy for Elvis,' his mother learns of Elvis's death while on an elevator, and 'Her tears flood the lift and wreck / its gears and pulleys.' And in the book's title poem, the pallbearing narrator tells us how imagination melds an ending with a beautiful transfiguration: 'We carried / cumulus and sky / shimmering on the casket lid....' Here are poems that will transform the reader with their grace and formal dexterity, and as Erica Dawson writes, 'Chances are, you haven t seen anything this way before.'"


Adam Tavel was born in Clinton, Maryland, and holds degrees from Lebanon Valley College, the University of Toledo, and the Vermont College of Fine Arts. He is the author of two previous poetry collections: The Fawn Abyss (Salmon Poetry, 2017) and Plash & Levitation (University of Alaska Press, 2015), which won the Permafrost Book Prize in Poetry.

About the Gettysburg Review

The Gettysburg Review, published by Gettysburg College, is recognized as one of the country’s premier literary journals. Since its debut in 1988, work by such luminaries as E. L. Doctorow, Rita Dove, James Tate, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Wilbur, and Donald Hall.

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