Dr. Adam Falkner is an artist, researcher and educational consultant. He is the author of Adoption, winner of the 2017 Diode Editions Chapbook Award, and his work has appeared in a range of literary and academic publications as well as on programming for HBO, NBC, NPR, BET, Upworthy, in the New York Times, and elsewhere. He is the Founder and Executive Director of the pioneering diversity consulting initiative, theDialogue Arts Project, and Special Projects Director forUrban Word NYC, a nationally acclaimed youth literary arts organization. A former high school English teacher in New York City’s public schools, Adam has toured the United States as a guest artist, lecturer and trainer for thousands of students, educators and culture workers, and was the featured performer at President Obama’s Grassroots Ball at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration. He holds a Ph.D. in English and Education from Columbia University, and B.A. in Creative Writing & Sociology from the University of Michigan.
Adoption revolves around a series of dueling narratives connected to queerness, masculinity and addiction. Beyond a personal meditation on those themes, it attempts topose a number of larger questions about what Andrew Solomon refers to as “vertical and horizontal identities”—namely, identities we inherit from our families, versus those forged outside of and often in spite of them—and the violence, shame and confusion that occur when those disparate selves conflict. In a broader sense, these poems challenge us to reconsider what it means to at once be seen and not seen, celebrated and silenced, thriving and disappearing.
In these urgent and sometimes mysterious poems, Falkner traces questions of identity, family, love, and the self. His language is angular and surprising, his content intimate and profound.
—Andrew Solomon, National Book Award-winning author of Far From the Tree & The Noonday Demon
Adam Falkner’s long-anticipated chapbook startles & shimmies & sorrows & shakes & exclaims! The subjects in Adoption are as multiply realizable as the word itself—these poems take their narrative scalpel & magnifying glass to the family, mental health, loss, coming out, and desire all while prioritizing the beauty of the language: ‘Teach me to land. Take me into your fold. Flock. Mouth.’ This book sings!
—sam sax, winner of the 2018 National Poetry Series, author of Madness
In Falkner’s hands, the poem of testimony is also an ode, an elegy, an investigation: “But where else to take all these questions about fathers / and sons and ghosts that have haunted holy out…” Poem after poem, line after line, he writes a ladder into—and out of—the intricacies of desire, family, silence, inheritance. Father-grief and father-love shine everywhere. Each line the measure of effortful reckoning turned into ink and sound. Into a tenderness examined and worked for, he considers the ways we devastate one another daily but also the ways we might be opened into love. As such, these poems defy isolation, instead insist on drawing the beloveds close: “this is the door / through which we all walk. Wave // to our families, say Thank you— / or not—spring into the wind.
—Aracelis Girmay, author of The Black Maria & Kingdom Animalia