Lyrical Intersections and Diverse Ways of Looking: A Review of Crowd Surfing With God by Adrienne Novy

The one aspect from within the multifarious book Crowd Surfing With God that stands out is the route of intersections the book offers and encompasses in its narrative. Adrienne Novy attempts to dismantle any sorts of binaries that may present themselves and does so effectively. The book catches you in a spot outside of boundaries and offers perspectives that promise a new order, within varied chaos. Novy takes you on a journey of self-discovery, loss, healing and fuses music into every pore and ounce of its larger parts.


There are natural elements juxtaposed into music, and it is within this musicality of things that a human form presents itself, uttering these words, as the poet. There is a demystification of the mundane into a spectrum of color and variety. An intriguing dimension of Novy’s work is the carefully drawn details; of tone, frequency, and rhythm of the music. The reader is transported and contained into a bliss of the musical, in the true spirit of the aesthetic of the vivacious half mystic press. A sense of purgatory and healing is achieved through elements of nature in the titular poem—


“            rain left small blessings on stained glass windows

of Philadelphia churches, composed

           eulogies, melody dense as cumulus.”  p. 5.


In the poem “cat’s in the cradle”, the reader is brought to an understanding of the Cat Eye Syndrome and is taken on a journey through the trajectory of realization and healing. An engaging quality of these poems is that healing is only half a part of the beginning of the cure. Novy combines the strings of onomatopoeic throb into the process of recovery, with insight and detail: “your insides wringing themselves out.”  p. 6. The reader is at once stunned and lulled into an alternate consciousness, an empathy of relooking at illness as a part and not the whole. The words of Rumi knock at mind upon reading the poems of Novy: “The wound is where the light enters you.” The reader is allowed entry into the vulnerable spots and is transformed into a becoming of sorts, as a part of the process of healing.


The connotation of the word ‘light’ assumes a paradigm shift in the poem titled as the same. This poem is rich in its brevity and is layered with images that may present themselves to the reader as flashlights of another car, just as one experiences a head-on collision in a dream. The difference here is that the dream takes shape of reality, as Novy effectively describes—


“i hunch over a pink plastic bedpan, my body

regurgitating her gospel.”  p. 8


The idea of heaven and divinity are amalgamated with the quest for healing, with music being a present continuous feature. The poems seem to offer the suggestion of living out trauma in order to be able to transcend it.


An intriguing portion of the book is derived through the engagement of identity as being inextricably linked to self-actualization, of knowing the epistemology of one’s roots. The reader is engaged as being a part of this discovery, outside of conventional spectrums, as opposed to a linearity in looking.


“i asked my Jewish mother & Roman Catholic father

which faith i was supposed to practice.”  p. 25


Novy seems to infer that recovery isn’t linear, but instead, is a process best described as an understanding of one’s own self. If these poems were a sculpture, its outsides would have a non-monolithic appearance. This is what Novy strives to create in the poems: a sense of perennial bewilderment as one acquires wisdom in the act of un-learning. The poems have a language unique to Novy, and it is through these linguistic and syntax parameters that one arrives at the intersections of identity, humor, imagery, memory, recollection, healing and music, not essentially in that order.


An indispensable element in Novy’s journey is the use of music as an interlude to healing, as a co-participant in the process.


“we heal & agree to meet up again tomorrow.

the imaginary audience in the driveway hums,

we break into our loudest prayer.”  p. 12.


Novy attributes religious ranks to the participant members in a band. This may encompass a subtle critique of conventionalism and religion, and the alternative is a new order of one’s own accord: in a way that seems to foster healing and inclusivity. The images in Novy’s poems foster these ideals further. In the phrase “tender cathedral of soft”, p. 13, for instance, there are intersections between the idea of divinity and the materiality of its physical manifestation in the world.


when my mother explains that Polycystic Ovarian

Syndrome means I might not be able to have

children // I ask myself how anyone will love this

garden if nothing can ever grow here //

but this body deserves forgiveness // after all the

breaking // after shame became the hardest storm //

the coldest month // tulip bulbs in frozen soil //

I am re-learning what it means to fully love myself //

that winter is still a gorgeous season // even when all

the life // is hiding”  p.44


Crowd Surfing With God is a book I’d suggest you coil with into the late at night when sounds of the world are drowned into the quiet hum of the body. The poems have a lyrical quality about themselves and grow in full potential to become your favorite songs. These are songs you sit yourself down in a spot of quietude; meditate upon and listen to— as though you’re speaking to a younger self. Novy’s poems are remarkable in their lyrical offerings of insight and are a way of reimagining things against the grain.

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