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Transom:
Your poem “An Illumination (Home Land)” invites multiple readings of the syntactical units, as phrases seem to meld into one another. This syntactic doubling allows the “you” at the end of this first line to function in two distinct ways: “Petrified by sun     will guide you through you / And this walking     are large.” In a poem that speaks of mountain gorges as nearly impassable boundaries between the “worlds” of the emigrants, how do you want your reader to understand the incredibly porous boundaries between phrases you’ve created?

Adamson:
I love the play and tension between syntax and line, how a poet can manipulate one to contort or beautify the other. Recently, I’ve begun trying to expand the limits of this manipulation by withholding punctuation, adding white space within a line, or both. This is probably the origin of the melding and doubling that you are responding to, and I am completely in favor of any phrasal syntactic understanding a reader comes to! I suppose I hope this kind of discovery is part of the experience of the poem.   

I also want to respond to the idea you raise of “boundaries,” which is very important for me. This poem is a lyric condensation of a long more narrative sequence I wrote about the weird place I was born and raised—Salt Lake City, Utah—and my weird relationship to it. It borrows language from one of the first government-issued geographic surveys of the area conducted from 1849-50, only a few years after Mormon settlement. Basically, the surveyor couldn’t understand what these strange zealots were doing in such an inhospitable environment with very literal boundaries—the intimidating Wasatch mountains to the east and the barren Great Salt Lake and salt flats to the west—cutting them off from what the surveyor calls “the world beyond.” (Of course, this is exactly what the Mormons wanted—isolation and autonomy.) Growing up in this environment, I also experienced very real cultural boundaries between my more liberal, agnostic family and the very conservative, religious general public. I moved away as soon as I could, yet my ancestors were among those first unlikely boundary-crossers and settlers. My family has lived in Utah for five generations. I have had to reconcile this my “home land” (from the title) with my own compulsion toward “elsewhere” and “exit.”

One way I have crossed and continue to cross this boundary is through the Southern Utah desert landscape—where the juniper and red sandstone of the poem are found. It is inhospitable yes but also undeniably sacred. The poem I think enacts this crossing. Perhaps the more “porous” boundaries between phrases in the poem help with this, bringing some permeability and points of entry to boundaries that, at least while I was growing up, were anything but.