The Adjacent Possible

A book-length sequence of linked poems, The Adjacent Possible centers on problems of consciousness, inter-subjective relation, theories of emergence, and Buddhist philosophy. These thematic concerns emerge through the dialogic exchange between two abstract figures, as they range across a variety of landscapes and poetic forms, including free verse, hybrid forms, and the traditional Japanese forms of haibun, tanka, and renga. The questions The Adjacent Possible explores are these: How does consciousness emerge into being, and how does one subject, human or otherwise, connect with another? How might poetry—as aural, visual, and elemental matter—catalyze these forms of relation?

Advance Praise

“This beautifully sinuous collection ignites language and the field around it,  enacting the deepest questions of materiality: the hinge between self and nature, vision and substance. When Julie Phillips Brown ‘uncintures the word,’ it flies into the wild proximity of negative space, sculpting blankness as if it, too, were tangible, transforming the page into a brilliant, reverberant arena. Her poems, like Emily Dickinson’s, ‘dwell in possibility,’ considering the interweaving of one and many, tracing ecosystems, seasons, and ‘lovers’ synchronicities.’ Foreground and background yield a recombinant music; uninscribed areas become an intrinsic part of the composition, iridescent counterweights. The lines that score this residual brightness are elegant and spare as brushstrokes. The background torques around linguistic gestures that seem heliotropic, led by the light that holds them. This is ‘winterfruit,’ a nourishment that emerges from the page’s snow into juice, color, sound, embodiment.  It is minimalism as amplitude, a poetics attentive to the smallest function words—prepositions, conjunctions, articles. Reading such exquisitely made, bioluminescent work is mind altering. I was mesmerized. Dazzled.”

—Alice Fulton, author of Barely Composed

“These poems of lyric beauty and intelligence invite readers to move through the substratum— through the ‘[u]nder under,’ where one is ‘[u]naccountable, . . . countless, fathomless, and alone.’ Here, against landscapes of wintry white and ‘unsystematic filigree,’ words work both as chisel and probe, as the poet pursues core questions: what is the bottom note, the sound at the depth of the most quiet? How could one arrive beyond the limits of memory, the illusion of a solid world, abstraction, and isolation? Bedrock separates surface from the saturated zone where water fills all spaces in the cracks. Julie Phillips Brown offers poetry as the language capable of bearing one (the self) across seemingly impenetrable distance to finally encounter others as ‘beautifully adjacent.’”

         —Luisa Igloria, author of Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (2020),
Poet Laureate of the Commonweaaatlh of Virginia (2020–22)

Judge’s Citation for The Adjacent Possible 

“Gorgeously spare, hypnotic, the poems in The Adjacent Possible are a meditation on an ‘adjacent’ possibility ‘[w]ithout I, without / you,’ the insight that ‘the joint of two not solids . . . is no joint at all.’ The poems in this collection beckon to the relationship of all beings, examine the ‘flurried noises’ of language, the ‘substrata’ of consciousness that distinguishes seer and seen, the eye the ‘gracejoint.’ Following the arc of seasons, ‘particulars’ of landscape ‘accrete,’ imitate the ‘brief echoes of / an objective real’ as filtered through the gaze of ‘one’ who ‘still looks out’ on ones that ‘sound’ and ‘speak.’ The language is part play, part theory: winter with its ‘edges fringed with wintersedge,’ spring when ‘Lilies wave by / lovely / lovely,’ when ‘the is larks / through utter night, skirrs / at the hum of dawn,’ summer ‘most bodied, / the most seeming.’ This ‘radiant’ poetic force, as heralded in the epigraph from Édouard Glissant, animates the ‘mind’s infoldings,’ ‘ghosts of / patterns, wisps crossing / an interior eye,’ reduces to glance the ‘cloudlight [that] tinks / at the atomic.’ In the narrative arc, summer leaves us in the tenuous moment when the ‘I / come into iridescence’ perceives its shift from one to ‘we,’ asks ‘if we [can] conjure beyond / a useless symbolic, without / order / unalone, no one.’ It interrogates how we ‘scaffold the abstract / fortifying the angles’ of existence. The question of spring—’What is an I if / alone?’—is recollected at the end, in late summer, but with intensity exacted over time: ‘will you be / still by me, still possible?’”

—Kathleen Hellen, author of Umberto’s Night

About the Author
Julie Phillips Brown is a poet, critic, painter, & book artist. She is the author of The Adjacent Possible (Green Writers Press) and the Founding Editor of House Mountain Review. Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Borderlands, Columbia Poetry Review, Crab Orchard Review, Denver Quarterly, interim, Jacket2, Nashville Review, Plume, Posit, Tahoma Literary Review, Talisman, Vinyl, Yemassee, & elsewhere. A native of Philadelphia, she lives in Lexington, Virginia, where she teaches creative writing, studio art, & American literature.
Find her online at


98 pages; 6 x 8 / Softcover
$14.95 print
ISBN: 978-1-9505845-8-1 (print)
Publication Date: November 9, 2021
Distributor: IPG / Chicago
Rights sold: All rights available.
Rights contact: Dede Cummings

Distributor: IPG; also available through Ingram, Follett/Baker & Taylor, and other wholesalers.

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