Some books create a feeling of gratitude and recognition whose intensity is startling. Transitional Object is one of those. Adrian Silbernagel works language like stained glass, making one densely-pigmented, luminous scene after another. If you too have asked “who this ‘I’ is that steals and gives,” if you have also told yourself, “the life of me/requires so many more bodies than this,” you need Transitional Object. Let it help you move from one self to another, one moment of being to the next, again and again. It’s that important. Silbernagel has “waded deeper into the rubble” of the structures that oppress, “where [he] now lie[s] in wait” to welcome you and help you on your way.
“The shoreline like a boulder,” writes Adrian Silbernagel, “has the softest skin in the world—you will question yourself.” If a poem is, as John Donne would have it, an argument with God, then the poems in Transitional Object evolve the argument into a softer, more considerable inquiry. Silbernagel questions the gestures and betrayals of a beloved through a delicate grammar. He tells us “mythology has lost its meaning” and uses the ballast of word play, calling his addressee “nearly beloved” to further draw us into his confusions. The intelligence wrought in Transitional Object explains itself through various entanglements, whether that means “sex-drenched” linens inside a walk-up apartment or is itself a phenomenological rendering: “when dusk snows its dark / wool down on us,” we understand that the lovers are shackled to so many abandoned objects, alone together, a union apart. Here, we experience the chutzpah and agony of language, their bleeding together a kind of romantic undertaking. Here, I celebrate the self that tells us, “For I...am mercurial / memoryish.” Memoryish, we are.
— Natalie Eilbert
At once a challenge and an invitation, a seduction and a demand, the work collected in Transitional Object does what poetry must, and only the best poetry does: it undoes the world as I know it, and remakes it entire. Adrian Silbernagel's utterly original voice, his mastery of language, his perceptual power, do no less than de- and reconstruct reality. These poems both employ and interrogate the power of word, image, and symbol to say what we mean; they question, and ultimately restore the reader's faith in, the possibility of making meaning at all. If all this sounds abstract, the poems themselves are anything but--these are muscular, embodied, deeply sensate works, alive with the passions of being, rich with both the tensions and wisdom of body and mind. Silbernagel is an important new voice, and his vision is one that we have not yet seen, nor will we see again soon.
“If to be mirrored was your motive, / it was mutual; if to last forever, mutual.” Adrian Silbernagel’s Transitional Object offers a means by which to both shatter and make solid, to create 'me' in flux, to write “I want my voice to explode in my dream without waking me,” when a metonymic “planetarium blasts apart inside me” or oracles as object. Light bends the object that talks to itself as if a lover, as kind or unkind. It nurses the edge, “contemplating not death, but the conditions of resurrection,” knowing that metaphors don’t die, we outgrow them. At times light is a bully to the hypothermic, who “gives way to heat, or the illusion of heat.” But as the heat casts off metaphysical skin or, if it dissects itself, turns inside out, it adds that “the animal in motion stays aysmmetrical.” As it devises material “threadwaste, threshold” through the condition of the body, it puns, the double having its way with the language because “mythology has lost its meaning.” Meaning is a monster stared down and eaten with “the beat and what falls between the beat.” Even if each piece of shatter resurrects as an animate fantasia of broom splinters. “Do not ask: what shall we make of all the disappearing furniture?” Instead ask what becomes you, an epic figure that might be believed in as the “names for each turn light takes as it enters a sanctuary: lux...lumen...illumination…” Between the maker and the made, the poem is written to this you who is a hole and wholes and holy, that “for the life of me / requires so many more bodies than this.”