Plash & Levitation

Plash & Levitation cover

(cover art by Madara Mason)

Plash & Levitation was selected by Heid E. Erdrich as winner of the Permafrost Book Prize in Poetry and was published in March 2015 by the University of Alaska Press.

You can purchase a copy directly from the publisher here. The book is also available from AmazonBarnes & NoblePowell’s, and the University of Chicago Press.

You can read interviews about its composition at The William & Mary Review and H_NGM_N Books.

You can also stream Adam’s interview with “Delmarva Today: Writer’s Edition,” which originally aired on Delmarva Public Radio, WSDL 90.7 FM, on June 26th, 2015.

Publisher’s Book Detail:

Plash & Levitation delves into the chaotic sublime of fatherhood, the candid revelations of youth, and the lingering consequences of history. Adam Tavel’s revealing and imaginative poems are joined by fictional monologues from historical figures and cultural icons, juxtaposing personal history with our shared one. Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman and rock legend Keith Moon are joined by musings from the Washington Redskins’ logo and the Wolfman. Together they create a lively chorus that clashes and soars. The result is forty-two fascinating pieces that are witty, consistently musical, and undeniably powerful—the perfect inaugural selection for the Permafrost Book Prize.


“Tavel’s book is a playful arrangement of grittiness and grand inquiry. Plash & Levitation reads as a daring collection of poems that pushes forward. It’s smart and edgy, an impressive first book from a poet with a truly unique voice.”

Zone 3

“Adam Tavel belies his young age with an amazing group of poems in Plash & Levitation. They offer a mature depth of psychological insight and quality of language that tell the reader here is something new.”

The Delmarva Review 

“Humor, erudition, and a witty talent for sheer invention set this volume apart.”

Cleaver Magazine

Advance Praise:

“These poems fit high diction to low—Latin hex to Lego Vader—in a rich collage, seamlessly constructed. Actual, mythic, pop, personal, speculative, all work together to leave no vacancy, no hunger. Adam Tavel’s poems are the satisfaction.”

Heid E. Erdrich

“With daring images and dazzling variety, Adam Tavel’s Plash & Levitation creates a dialogue across the centuries. In one poem, a young painter rejects Thomas Eakins’ Gross Clinic, eyeing “the boy’s leg sucked apart /  like a wet wallet at incision”; another poem offers an aubade to Sesame Street, with Muppet numbers “sway[ing] peppermint canes / with fishing line visible / below their cardboard stage.” We hear the voices of a Medici servant, William Tecumseh Sherman, Anne Sexton, even Keith Moon crooning, “dear boy I say / back to the mer-tail // you know California shakes / enough on her own.” Tavel’s restless line interrogates the distance between what we choose and what is demanded of us, the thin divide between slurry and sublime. Though the poems occasionally hunker down in a college office, their textures are anything but academic: audacious, funny, full of blood and muck, as “ornery as Walsh’s mare // that bucked and spit three long days / grinding my cavesson in clover.” Readers, hang on for the ride.”

Sandra Beasley

“I read this excellent book straight through, compelled to read aloud as I went. Composed of complex, surprising extended sentences, their artful music mellifluous and dissonant by turns, these ambitious poems are the work of an intellect that intensely reveres our language’s relationship to human experience. This is an auspicious and utterly refreshing debut.”

Mark Cox

“In this passion play, this collation algorhythm of hard looks, a wordfreak of the first order lays out and lays into the full gamut: miscarriage to coffin bearers, emergency room hell to bathtub bliss, prelate to fellate, black humor to longing. Reader, because this is the real, and unreal, language poetry, stop worrying this opuscular blurb and spelunk Tavel’s Cave of Linguistic Wonders. What an ear. What syntax. What a book.”

Roger Weingarten

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