By David Krogh
The term “melancholia” is often used to describe a mental state of profound despair or even sadness. However, poet Adam Horvath’s book Melancholia is anything but that type of a melancholy.
In the words of the author, “notwithstanding the somber title, this is a book of mirth and whimsy.” The book is illustrated by Valeria Zecchini with a map and other smaller figures intended to pleasantly distract and redirect the reader from any attempt at seriousness.
Horvath says, “The map is there to indicate that Melancholia is a place (an imaginary place, of course)… The map, like most of the contents, is meant to be playful.”
Why Melancholia? “It grew from the opening poem called ‘Rainbow.’ The quote from Wallace Stevens’ satirical poem ‘Gubbinal’ was the inspiration for that poem… And that, in turn, was the catalyst for the book,” said the author.
Horvath’s poetry style is a non-rhyming modern free verse form in a sub-genre he identifies as “prose poems,” but he states, “I can assure you a lot of thought goes into the pacing and cadence of the lines, the interplay of word-sounds, and what you might call the musicality of what I write. The line breaks are very deliberate.”
Two short examples of Adam Horvath’s poems from his book are as follows:
When I assert
there’s no ego attachment to the things I’ve written,
I am referring to my alter ego,
The Booklover’s Lament
Books will be written
long after I am dead.
Someone else will read them.
As can be seen, there is not only whimsy within these poems, but also an attempt to pun.
“If you think you’ve found a pun in anything I have written, you are almost surely correct! Speaking more broadly, I love wordplay of every sort,” says Horvath.
Melancholia is kind of like a tour book, but it’s not. You are directed around the land of Melancholia, but not all of the poems relate to place. That is part of the imagination that Horvath has instilled within this book.
Asked about his broad imagination, the author responded, “You bet. Or let’s call it boundless curiosity about the amazing world we inhabit. I read a lot about science, history and philosophy and I frequently draw inspiration from my reading. I love to embed bits of factual information into whimsical contexts.”
The author has successfully utilized snippets of quotes from other poets and playwrights to help separate the sections within his book. These and the illustrations assist in making this book an enjoyable read.
The book is 84 pages and includes 55 original poems and numerous snippets of quotes.
This is Adam Horvath’s first book. He says, “Two more are forthcoming from No Reply Press: Conundrums and Flamingo Heaven & Other Lofty Concerns.” He has several other books in the works.
Originally from Bayside, Queens, the author describes himself as a “devout polysemist” (evident in how he words his poems). He resides in the Willamette Valley with his wife and “a pack of very frisky pet peeves.”
Of interest to readers, Melancholia was initially published in May 2021 by No Reply Press in SE Portland as a limited edition. It quickly sold out. However, Babel Editions (a spinoff of No Reply Press) has issued a second printing.
Melancholia is available at Books With Pictures in Ladd’s Addition, 1401 SE Division St., Belmont Books, 3415 SE Belmont St., and at Mother Foucault’s Bookshop, 523 SE Morrison St. It can also be purchased at Amazon.com.