American Splendor

By
Photography Victoria Stevens

Published September 19, 2016

ADAM FITZGERALD IN NEW YORK, JULY 2016. PHOTOS: VICTORIA STEVENS. STYLING: LILLI MILLHISER. GROOMING: HIKARI TEZUKA FOR AVENUE/HONEY ARTISTS.

When Rimbaud sent Verlaine a few poems, Verlaine wrote back, “Come, dear great soul. We await you.” If poet Adam Fitzgerald contacted Verlaine, Verlaine might leave the wise voicemail message, “Stay, dear great soul, stay in your suburban sprawl.” That’s no slight to the extraordinarily gifted Fitzgerald, who, in his second volume of poetry, George Washington (Liveright), manages to create vast, heroic, Whitman-esque verse out of the toy chests, spam folders, shopping malls, and 24-hour cable of our American youth. So masterfully does Fitzgerald blend jarring acoustical pairings (“wacky khakis,” “aluminum meadows”), hilariously banal pop cameos (the Oregon Trail video game), and heartbreaking revelations (“before long, replacement you lounges with replacement them on a green sofa that is a fine forgery of itself”) that he effectively invents his own rich, monumental landscape from the recycling bins of cultural debris. Fitzgerald proved he was a poet to watch with his first book. Now he’s a poet to follow.