continent. maps a topology of unstable confluences and ranges across new thinking, traversing interstices and alternate directions in culture, theory, biopolitics and art.
Issue 1.1 / 2011: 52-59

The Poetry of Adam Staley Groves. Introduction by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei

A. Staley Groves

continent. 1.1 (2011): 52-59. 


Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei

Adam Staley Groves is a poet of thought. I say this with the greatest sincerity. Hence a thorough reading of even this small selection of his work in the length of an introduction is impossible. Such is the diligent reader’s task!

Nevertheless, my choice for Staley Groves, like all choices, demands a justification, which I would like to formulate as follows. Staley Groves fits in the heroic tradition of poets that have engaged philosophy on its own terrain, the surface of being. It is of utmost importance for the circulation and development of philosophy that these poets exist and continue to challenge the assumptions and axioms of philosophy, especially in times in which nearly the whole field of thought has fallen prey to irrelevant scholastic disputes.

In his first publication, Imaginality, Conversant and Eschaton, Staley Groves clearly states his intentions when he asks of us to "consider surfaces without metaphyics" (22), "this landscape of surface(s) and concentric perfection, history of scribbles, of scribblers, true tauto-scribes—this flat world of ladders blown up and blown down on." (170). A surface without metaphysics is a thought of being with all the ladders of metaphysics flattened. Just like with Wittgenstein, the reader "must throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it." (§6.54).

Staley Groves inserts himself in the tradition of poetry hailed by Wallace Stevens in his essay "The Figure of the Youth as Virile Poet" as the "unofficial view of being." Unofficial, but no less serious. And just like Stevens, Staley Groves appeals to the idea of imagination as the place from which both poetry and philosophy originate.

At the end of the unpublished collection 33 poems from 2008 he says, "Poetry should agitate the imaginary whose foundation is of the nothing apart and conversant with such." Poetry is, contrary to most metaphysical philosophy, non-exclusive and should be able to imagine what or who imagines the "apart," the exclusions of and from language. This should be done by means of, and I really admire this word, an "aesthtic" reasoning. A reasoning that conflates the categories of ethics and esthetics, "That is the overturning of the structure onto violence / into the transmission of imaginary kalidescopically."

The following selection of poems has been made from Staley Groves’s upcoming publication of his first collection of poetry, entitled Poetry Vocare. Fortuitously—and Stevens taught us, every true metaphor is fortuitous—the first poem from the section "galata bridge" deals with the theme of this inaugural issue of continent.: the "greased isthmus" of the Bosphorus, the locus classicus of the East-West divide, a "night’s milk water / between 'worlds.'"

Again we encounter Staley Groves’s theme of the "nothing apart" of poetry’s imagination when he concludes that "only aura / only aural sun, / of world / no walls remain / the modern kaleidoscope, crushed in stanbul." The Galata Bridge, connecting the ancient and modern parts of Istanbul, crossing the isthmus between Ottoman Byzantium with the Christian world of merchants, here becomes emblematic of one of the many tasks of poetry. In a broader political perspective: the overcoming of all the real and fantasmatic walls dividing so-called terrorists from enlightened humans, dividing god-sent settlers from invaders, dividing desperate people from luxury swimming pools.

This can be done, for in a section from "glass language" he assures us that "Walls hold aspiration." And "gusting plaster wall, hear crumbles, between slats, / crumbs between walls. / Sense prints vacant space." Therefore, Staley Groves is most of all an affirmative poet. A poet who affirms the imaginative power of poetry. "allspeed! back into essence," the first poem from "galata bridge" ends. This is an appeal that speaks to us from within poetry. It is an appeal to "town squares, / integrate circles."

Prishtinë, Kosovo

October 14, 2010

Staley Groves’s Poetry Vocare will be available from March, 2011 as the first publication of Uitgeverij.


Selected Poems from Poetry Vocare Adam Staley Groves



(in the world

alive life in the world)


plying wall

in summer of “world”


sea borne holes, a great catastrophe

open your wall

have it open,

do not withhold


Mehmed, Mehmed: stands in steel against the slit


a globe, at his feet

against, facing he’s

fac?’d-up, to a murk of,

constelling waters,

leaky, greased isthmus,

open pagination

a night’s milk water

between "worlds"

cisternal nectar,

lispy pages

bound spine

of the wall, brok’d flow


plied fibers

in its flex, over ages

a crown on hill

skull hill of skies in thou , sands

drown in fervor

move , ment



unbracketed leaves

fallen plans from skies


no walls remain,

leaves us Now, as it were

the fire on skull,

only aura,

only aural sun,

of world

no walls remain

the modern kaleidoscope,

crushed in stanbul


allspeed! back into essence.



The air fills with glass


the lungs.

see more closely

what designs ‘view’.

Not aspect, mere aspection,

rationing sight.

worm aurora rings fiber,

glass fire halo


the philosopher, stealing up shoes,

to journey, and meet poet’s wife’s husband


put on your hat,

lift up your coat,

hear the hook bounce

gusting plaster wall,

hear crumbles, between slats,

crumbs between walls.

Sense prints vacant space.


Walls hold aspiration.

Citations of poetry,

sensible wall, cited by hanging pictures.

hung pictures behind evenings.


Philosophers are sperm,

poetry erupts sperm and dribbles,

philosopher recodes term,

to terminate,


glass text, ure


insubstantial aspect love

vis-able termination.


A glass supposes something dramatic about others:

finite torsion of

onlooker, seeing

their reflection seeing

beyond, contorted.


And as a circle,


a tower,

for the master,

for the captured,

for the thinker,

for the clouds.


It was philosopher,

whom philosopher

picks up,

who takes a view

of the glass,

there: a fly in the glass,

that can see beyond,

cannot escape,

overturned glass.


A glass language has nothing to do

with speaking,

rivulet reflections,

atomized filling, nostrilling horns,

concentric orders

and bursting text

of lip’s face.


It says much about


of the fly,

and the position,

of the philosopher.

In deed not simple.




poetry is not vocation,

mere vocare,

the center evacuated.


in poetry


phlebotomy of the plan:


to dislocate,






to splice center

and centers

of the central world.

the street dispersal,

phlebotomy of venations.


voidance and evacuation:

carefully splice voi and dance; call-dance, kehy-dance,




not plans,

mere evacuated

and beyond

call of poetry the evacuation,


of the throwing

to the voice

in the dispersal

of the street.


if you are spilt you are split.

it is the rising without view for which streets disperse its centers.


poetry vocare,

plan in,tense

futurist claim in,tense,

and return to,

tense claim of,

the call in the collision, thrown phlegm.


in the call after call.

the splitter

and the drinker are in,circled,

but we town squares,

integrate circles.



Staley Groves, A. 33 poems. Unpublished: August 2008.

Staley Groves, A. ImaginalityConversant and Eschaton. New York/Dresden: Atropos Press, 2009.

Stevens, Wallace. Collected Poetry and Prose. The Library of America, 1997.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Trans. D.F. Pears and B.F. McGuinness. London/New York: Routledge, 1974.