An Affront to Gravity
“In this remarkable collection, Trenam is able to transform empty and blank spaces into places of worship that entice the reader to leave “the dark corners of our rooms” to experience not only the world that he creates through these poems, but also the ways in which art, music, dance, and poetry are rooted “at the heart of things.”
Just as he speaks of Cezanne, how “his art moves us ahead of ourselves—/out of bounds, transcending our limits” so do the lines and scenes in this unique collection, where images loom and dance, at once recognizing the history from which they are speaking, the gravity that sustains those boundaries, and the way that expression, in every form, can stretch and alter them.
As the initial poem, “Full Circle” suggests, the reader will want to return to these pages again and again, meeting different versions of themselves, but also knowing that both the questions these poems elicit and the beauty they curate have no real end.”
—Megan Merchant, author of “Before the Fevered Snow” (Stillhouse Press, 2020). She was awarded the 2016-2017 COG Literary Award, the 2018 Beullah Rose Poetry Prize, and most recently, second place in the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. She is an editor at Pirene’s Fountain and The Comstock Review.
Order An Affront to Gravity
“Hold tight to your kite strings… it’s liftoff! Look, there’s “Stravinsky’s bird on fire,” here’s “Christo’s running fence—a choreographed fugue.” Steve Trenam is a gravity-defying word-dancer who rambles, romps, canters, and glissades his stories and images into our hearts. He punctuates these flights of fancy with delightfully quirky humor, offering up a unique stew of associations with nods to the Book of Revelation, IHOP, haystacks without needles, clouds behind silver linings, and Kurosawa’s unrelenting rain. But in their exuberant flight, these poems also offer unflinching, clear gazes into the difficult—deaths of brothers and friends, glimpses of our own mortality.
From “poppy seeds winging their way to burst into air” to “exalted splashes of color” affronts to gravity abound in this collection. But perhaps Trenam’s most powerful affront is his defiant celebration of our inevitable landing. With the spirit of a dancer (“proud of his lunacy”) he praises “the thrill of falling” and assures us, “Downhill is going to be fun.”
—Prartho Sereno, Poet Laureate Emerita of Marin County, author of 4 prize-winning poetry collections, most recently Indian Rope Trick
“In these finely crafted and tantalizing poems, Steve Trenam returns us to that soul-intersection where the human art of being—the performance of living, the pure human consummation of it—achieves a pinnacle of release and affirmation. Those moments when we spread our spiritual wings and ascend, buoyant against the mortal coil, before shambling off into the inevitable dust. Aptly titled, An Affront to Gravity is a derogation of those realities that seemingly hold us down, hold us back, condemn us all. A skipped rock will ultimately sink, admits the poet—but not before sending shivering ripples across the surface of a pond. Feeding apples to stallions in the Tuscan Hills, our worldly circumstances are transfigured.
In this mortal world, gravity may hold the ultimate card. But in the interim, and in our junctures of great unheralded glory, we may not just forestall the weight of mortality, but commute its sentence entirely. Gravity loses its full dominion over few of us entirely—but there are rare meridians of small majesty, however temporary, for us all—moments when we may blow our jazz so hard we blow the leaves off trees; that remain as suspended in memory and as perfectly turned as an egg on a thin, wide, stainless steel blade. That’s no small triumph of being, and it is a delight to experience, however vicariously. These are poems that hold us spellbound in an ecstasy of pendulous light.”
—George Wallace, Writer in Residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace, first Poet Laureate of Suffolk County, LI NY and author of 36 books and chapbooks of poetry.