Index of Haunted Houses, winner of the kathryn A. Morton Prize, will be published by Sarabande Books in September 2020.
Named one of "15 New and Forthcoming Indie Press Gems" by Publishers Weekly and included in Library Journal's "Versifying / Collection Development: Poetry," which named it one of "nearly 100 titles [that] represent some of the best work coming in 2020 while effectively telling the story of poetry."
Praise for Index of Haunted Houses
"The elegiac debut from Davis is interested in haunting in all its forms. Davis wonders 'how/ terrible the stars/ are,' or why 'We orphan// everything// we touch' in poems that catalogue and consider losses. The world of this collection is one of debt and desire, ghost stories and foreclosures, where 'weather is a borrowed room.' Yet these poems still offer delight in their alliteration and repetition. Writing of a 'lack// of locks,' or 'lye/ and lollipop,' or 'lemonade light,' Davis’s work offers a respite of pleasure amid poems that ask what to do after 'Wreckage.' Subverting a common trope that associates ruin with nostalgia, Davis refuses to gloss what has been left behind, as he wonders what would have been 'If we had been/ better and awake,' and 'If we had accounted.' The ghosts of these poems are not just ghosts of blood and bodies, but of money, choices, and myths. This is a collection of stark witness and testimony, with a voice that manages to sing."
“Hypervigilant, fidgety, and frightened as it should be, Index of Haunted Houses nonetheless shows us how to rake through the rubble for what we might still rebuild with, and in its consummate achievement, generates flashes of much heretofore unseen beauty, unleashing phrases that ‘arc like / swans in (the) cochlea’s / cul-de-sac.’”
“The reader finds herself in America’s afterlife, with Ma Bell’s pre-automation telephone operators. This is the elegant lyricism of ‘too late,’ calling ‘Ladies please wake up. I want to try again.’”
“Adam O. Davis has written a brilliant book about our ghosts—personal, political, mythic, lyrical and yet very real. He documents and chronicles the musics of the unsaid, melodies unheard. There is America in these pages and there is also childhood, parenthood, a rhythm and nuance of being. I love this music.”
“From ‘the body of New Jersey’ to ‘the desert/like a house of belief,’ the poems of Index of Haunted Houses traverse the entirety of time and space that we call American. In this book, Adam O. Davis means for language as precise as ‘ledgers lavish with loss,’ to lead us to the place within us where history meets landscape. This is a brilliant debut.”
“Time and again I was pulled in, kept close to the collisions between the self and the passage of time which populate the poems. The beauty of the language engenders intimacy. The reader easily steps into the text. The wonderful imagination of this poet reminds us the mind—lyric space—is an astonishing nexus.”