A riotous yet deceptively serious addition to Adrian Blevins’ oeuvre, Status Pending exquisitely leverages the lyric to fathom the liminality of human experience. These poems comprise a stenography of our lives as the buffering consciousness between voided states. Blevins straddles various faultlines as a woman who writes and mothers, who emerges from a second divorce as an Appalachian transplant in New England, who sees from midlife the stringent but unspoken socioeconomic strata framing class conflict. If marriage “was a rope across a twilight abyss (an abscess),” if aging brings the hateful labels “OUT OF ORDER / & LATE FEE,” every disappointment uncovers rejuvenating clarity. “Bereavement status” engenders both heartbreak and hope, somehow, as “then you lose your losses.” Blevins triumphs in her reclamation of the spectacular in the mundane. “America is a flub. // A hack. A crime! America, fuck you for making // despondent bandits of us — / for blinding & hooding // & chaining & gagging us.” Even perched on shifting tectonic plates, Blevins wins the last word: “You don’t seem to know it, // but there are foxes / crossing meadows // out there fast as disco lights. There are loons on your lakes.” Amen.
Left for me the ash to heave. Left the lash.
Left the sieve. Left the chime.
Left the wren. Left the rain. Left an ache.
Left me dragged
& left me rucking. Left such legroom
he left me a crypt!
& blew out the stamens okay
& blew out the sap
until finally I got it that he,
leaving, left even the milk
our babies spilled
like a veil across the decades
like he left me counting
how much airspace
we had to cross
to get to the end of it
like he left me to say
how it was to stand over so much slope
to know to be airborne
which is what I am knowing
plus we’re all just vapor
plus a balefire
& to wake up motherfucker
& to hew it.
Sentences are the magic fabric of these marvelous odes and anti-odes. A prime Adrian Blevins sentence is both warpath and crossroad catapulting us from anxiety to ecstasy to lullaby on a bridge of ampersands. An Adrian Blevins sentence is a live wire, an electric lasso, a clairvoyant conveyer belt containing multitudes. Her poems curse, woo and storm ‘the sleazy codswallop of the muck’ of Memory. Every enlivening line has the cadence of a brilliant, stupefied heart. Status Pending is terrific.
Status Pending is a magical book, casting abecedarian spells and jangly riffs that transform our deepest griefs and fears into raucous, bawdy song. Yet, despite their masterful propulsive linguistic playfulness, these are poems that reckon unflinchingly with the raw and unbearable emotions of profound loss. Shifting effortlessly from Appalachian elegy to apocalyptic cultural critique, from wry humor to simple sorrow, Blevins’s speaker has proven herself to be as wily and resilient as the nearly-mythic grey fox she loves.
Status Pending finds uncommon delight in common words, vernacular syntax and a range of playful poetic forms, to say nothing of the many permutations of human folly, “the trillion catastrophes of imprudence floating like apples to bob for.” Surely, this is a poet who contains (and speaks for) multitudes, when she says: “America/ fuck you for making/ despondent bandits of us.” If you happen to have lost your faith in poetry, don’t worry, Adrian Blevins will restore it.