Winner of the inaugural Max Ritvo Poetry Prize, North American Stadiums is an assured debut collection about grace - the places we search for it, and the disjunction between what we seek and where we arrive.
“You were supposed to find God here/the signs said.”
In these poems, hinterlands demand our close attention; overlooked places of industry become sites for pilgrimage; and history large and small - of a city, of a family, of a shirt - is unearthed. Here is a factory emptying for the day, a snowy road just past border patrol, a baseball game at dusk. Mile signs point us toward Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Salt Lake City, Chicago. And god is not the God expected, but the still moment amid movement: a field “lit like the heart / of the night”, black stars stitched to the yellow sweatshirts of men in a crowd.
A map “bleached / pale by time and weather”, North American Stadiums is a collection at once resolutely unsentimental yet deeply tender, illuminating the historical forces that shape the places we inhabit and how those places, in turn, shape us.
“[Chambers] records vivid details and creates an engrossing urban pastoral.... These distinctive poems deserve a wide audience.” (Washington Post)
“Exquisite.... Chambers executes a kind of magic that is perhaps unique to poetry: He conjures a moment from nothing, draws the reader inside, and disperses the spell with something as gentle as a shift in the wind direction, or a quiet revelation.... A promising new poet.” (Booklist)
“These are poems of memory and longing - compelling, lyrical, and unsettling. The unsettling feeling comes with the revelation that for all the urban inventory, this is an American pastoral. A spacious glimpse of an old adventure: a poet pushing toward his own frontier. And Grady Chambers is a wonderful poet, equal to the task.” (Eavan Boland)
“This powerful, absorbing first book has the sound and feel of a younger generation.” (Henri Cole)