From the zone of loss — of parents’ slipping away, in a distant country, into death and assisted living, of the alloyed grief of the expatriate, of mortal flesh — Adam Chiles sends back incisive and yet gentle missives verging on but never ratifying despair. At bottom, though, these poems are about fundamental questions of identity, of the true name of consciousness. The expatriate says, “I wake one morning, / between selves, neither here / nor there.” Who stands at the edge of the bluff? And who is bluffing? Bluff does not answer these questions. It sings them with a decorous beauty.

— T.R. Hummer

If poetry can turn the experience of our lives into something mythic, transform the private secular to the shared sacred, then Adam Chiles’ Bluff is that work of poetry. In these poems, Bluff is both vantage point and authentic vulnerability, a rendering of soul-defining relationships that is unflinching in its ability to both record and be changed by what is there. Wondrous is the immensity of heart here that understands that the privileged position of the witness is also permeable no matter the distance. What an honor to be invited into this space where Chiles’ fine ear and delicate line is given over to such vulnerability and tender openness, bringing us back to the origin making moments of life well-reckoned.

— James Hoch

In this lyrical collection of elegies, Adam Chiles renders the grief of losing loved ones and one’s natal landscape in contrapuntal harmony with a landscape that, through the skillful use of metaphor, appears to us vital and bristling with energy: “The sea drills closer, you can smell it — / these architectures of salt, these lashed abbreviations / tossing in land. Feel the northern cottages / flinch and stiffen under the gale.” Here, the lost landscape becomes ever more critical to the poet’s sense of place and self. As William Faulkner notes, however, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” This book offers us the great pleasure of savoring the creative contradictions in these lively poems of ghosts, exile, homesickness, and erosion whose present and presences are as alive as they ever were. 

— Sidney Wade

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Adam Chiles was born in London and grew up in East Yorkshire, England. He is the author of a previous collection Eveningland, nominated for the 2009 Gerald Lampert Award. His work has appeared in Copper Nickel, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, Threepenny Review, Willow Springs, and elsewhere. Adam lives with his wife Emily and their children in rural Virginia.