Winner of the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize, Grady Chambers’ debut collection, North American Stadiums, grapples with the weight of memory in all its forms—cultural, familial, and personal. These poems are raw. They run long, but are unpretentious—the collection travels through the Rust Belt, encompasses the experiences of friends, family, factory workers, baseball spectators, and veterans as the speaker recollects and observes from a place “where I could be alone / but everyone I love could reach me.” Though the melding of the personal experience, such as talking to a homeless man (“I gave him money / and listened to a story about his sister. I should have held his hand.”) to the political (“Honors to the writers of the Great Manifestos”), Chambers seeks to close the gap between internal and external narrative. It is in this gap that the speaker finds “darkness filling / the absent forms,” where memory and guilt, both cultural and personal, can ferment. And yet, these poems travel towards forgiveness by fighting the ways that “silence / slides through years.” This is no easy road: “You might return alive / but with a stripe of filmstrip in your brain / shining with something living / while it burns.”

Milkweed Editions.

—Review by David Brunson