Tag Archives: Adam Fell

Best Thing I’ve Read This Week: Dear Corporation

7 May


Adam Fell’s second collection, Dear Corporation (H_NGM_N Books, 2013), is written to the gods of the twenty first  century, those entities capable of bending the course of history that are simultaneously indifferent to the lives of people who will live through it. Fell’s epistles are survey responses given as manifestos, comment cards in the form of maltov cocktails.

Fell’s Dear Corporation is a call to riot. It screams in the face of welling indifference and easy neo-liberalism that characterizes the opening of our new millennium. He writes:

Politicians never counted on us. Wall Street never counted on us. The cadaverous yuppies and their screaming vegan babies never counted on us. Investment bankers swear they keep finding our faces burned into their zeroes and ones like belligerent, binary Marys. They feel our fingers down the throats of their housing bubbles, our teeth foreclosing on the napes of their uninsured necks. To put it more delicately: I want you to fuck the fiscal responsibility out of me. I want you to fuck me until universal health care. We are the only thing that is too big to fail, so put down the briefcase and come skin the rabbit with me.  (22)

Fell wants to stain the immaculate corporate surfaces over which we crawl like ants looking for spilled Coke. He strips out the eggshell-painted drywall, pulls up the laminate flooring made to look like real wood grain to show us the chaos a corporation is trying to cover with its flattening of human experience. Fell states:

[S]o let me get my wolf cub teeth right into the deer heart of our matter: there is a brimming and braveness and feral intelligence to you that I’m taken with. Where I suspect a wilderness may be, a wilderness usually is, and I can’t help but explore. My dear Corporation, you are the PJ Harvey of the investment banking world, the Margaret Atwood of subprime mortgage lenders. You say you are unfamiliar with the taste of man, but I know a dive bar in Red Hook that proves you a liar.  (54)

Fell uses the corporation to represent everything that isn’t corporeal. Just as the word no longer contains the human body, the corporation Fell addresses is one that has moved past the human experience, and the letters Fell writes could be as easily addressed to Target as the US government.

In Dear Corporation Fell wants to anchor humanity in people instead of the illusory capital, both economic and cultural, held in corporations. Fell writes:

Adam and Eve with the apple unbit never had to un-coin their eyes to imbalance, inequity, the ingenuity and ignorance and incessant allure of the world. To wake in the dark of the woods and realize we have been created at all is to realize we have not always been, that we will not always be. We are not born to stake a claim, but to claim a stake in each other, to burn alive if needed in the pure resurrection of our simultaneous decay. (27)

Fell locates himself with people. Fell is like a human submarine sending out waves of noise in the hopes of having someone give him a signal as to where he is. Ultimately, Dear Corporation is a letter asking us to write back.

And that’s what I found so successful about this book, it’s willingness to be human, to say anything to get us to connect with it as a human document. Dear Corporation is prosaic. It digresses. It writes vaguely inappropriate postcards. It sings with the radio when it’s drunk. It may, at times, lack artifice, but never art.

A Long Poem I Love: Reckoner by Adam Fell (from I Am Not A Pioneer)

4 Jun
  1. At four pages, is this a long poem? I can’t spend much time with your question, sir, but I can be honest in a jiffy and say, Sure, it is. I call this a long poem for both how it stretches its story and expands its situation further than its four pages, how big and heavy this thing is (more in just a moment on that, patience please), but also for how long, geesh is that the best I can come up with?, it lingers with me after I’ve read it, the first poem in Fell’s rad book I read two months ago.
  2. It opens: “Overnight, the lake invents itself.” And as this lake beats against the city, wallops the townspeople’s steadiness, they, the people of the poem, panic and begin to throw fire, cars, the nature surrounding, and buildings into the lake, an offering of sorts.

Our fingers calloused round and gripping
the handles of shovels, thousands of us,

filling the lake with beach sand, shore sod,
the expensive audio equipment
the wealthy use around here as wavebreaks.

We keep filling, keep dredging.

We dump parked cars in the lake.
We dump parking meters.

We dump the bags of change
collected form the parking meters.

  1. What’s that reaction called? Fight or flight? Here they fight with what’s around them, what they can toss at this thing they’ve named “a terror.”
  2. I can’t read this poem, think of this poem, type words about this poem without a giant Mouth appearing above the page, above my head. The Mouth is what is this poem, the lake as mouth, the mouth of the townsmen like Mike and Bill and others with their advice given and gone against, the speaker’s mouth telling this story whomever wherever he is, the mouth of the writer (that exists somewhere still surely?), the we’s that talk (or choose to stay silent, only act) throughout:

We vote to close debate without debating.
We vote to gather our rifles and torches at shore.


Bill says, I wonder if some of us shouldn’t,
you know, throw ourselves in as a sacrifice
to the cause of wiping out this, you know, terror,
this sudden unknown destroying our…

Bill stops.

We know he’s been awake all night
perfecting his speech in the mirror.

  1. Through all the talking, the solutions emptying the town around the lake, the narrative, where are the mouths with the questions as to exactly what the problem is? How terrifying, more so maybe than the lake, is that lack of debate, is that settle on the “fact” that this lake is an (THE) issue.

We’re running out of things
running, running, things, things,

but the lake still calmly takes
what little we give it.

It opens and swallows, opens and swallows.
Never a complaint.

Around midnight we run out of rubble.

  1. When does an act of safety, of protection, of a good decision, become a damaging act of presumptuous repetition? The throwing mimicking the lake’s returning against the shore, the poem mimicking the townspeople’s repetition, as time moves forward.
  2. If I may, I’m gonna, take a second for a personal bloop. I tried getting married young, the family thing, the steady thing, then the doubts and the fears, my own lake, beating daily against my skull, my lake eating my family, both born and created, my poems, my happiness, and eventually me. How strange for something so lovely, so possibly soothing, just by being there, just by returning, just by making its presence known daily and definitively can disrupt and disturb, despite all its goodness.
  3. Yet when it comes down to self-sacrifice, giving up oneself, it becomes something easy to turn back on, something to end on, to choose flight in the end (SPOILER ALERT MAN):

We all volunteer to be martyrs.

But by morning
none of us have gone through with it.

  1. What is it with throwing away our defenses, but not ourselves? People want to take away protections like birth control and the justice in the justice system. People want to take (and/or give?) away happiness and love, both for themselves and others. People want to throw away their surrounding nature and their health. The fear, it creeps, but why are we limiting that wall between that and us?

Buy I Am Not A Pioneer by Adam Fell, a totally awesome book kicked off by this poem, from H_NGM_N Books, right now if you know what’s up.