Foreword -- Missing the Exit --- Michael Adubato





I had known Michael Adubato first as a friend and colleague before I became acquainted with him as a poet, with a history of unpublished poems scattered across countless notebooks. At the time I had the pleasure of reading his work for the first time, I was the senior editor of the Ariel Chart literary journal. I accepted a few of his poems for publication, and appreciate their quality, Editor-in-Chief accepted a few more. This initial publication gave Adubato an impetus to organize his poetry in a collection of poems, unified around the leitmotif of travel, because most of the selected poems were written during moments of his exploring new cities and sites, or returning to marvel anew at the old ones.

            For Adubato, travel is as essential as writing, for he doesn’t know “how not to write,” or for that matter, not to yearn for travel. His striving to transmute observed life’s moments into verses is coupled with his burning need to visit new places, for he feels compelled to discover the world, learn about it and become familiar with the creations of both man and nature. “Home is nice,” he says in a poem, “but you cannot really live and learn and discover in a familiar and confined space.”

            His verses are a reflection of what he sees during his travels, what he feels and thinks while enwrapped in the solitude of contemplation in a European café, in a New Jersey Dunkin Donuts shop, on the slope of a mountain, or inside some ancient ruins, or a bookstore. By exploring the spaces without, he is inspired to mine the places within his interiority.

            In free verse, Adubato skillfully captures the ambiance of ordinary moments. He views the mundane and ordinary through the poetic lens of the extraordinary. Because there are wonders hidden in everyday scenery and experiences, such as those in one’s kitchen during the turkey roasting for Thanksgiving, or while “making waffles with maple syrup”. His poem Lisbon exemplifies his style, which is unaffected and devoid of any poetic pomposity and arresting in its deceptively innocent depiction of life, because the simplicity of the lines, “today, we’ll walk those hills, ride those trams…as we ignore the passing of our lives,” is threaded with a deeper reflection on life’s transience. Such simplicity makes Adubato’s poetry accessible to all readers, who need not delve into excessive symbolism or heavy metaphorical language.

            Adubato’s poetry is not focused on travel experiences exclusively. His verses also offer a social insight into and commentary on the world affairs of the time, describing, e.g. the atrocities in Syria, where,


  “…the Syrian government

attacks people with chemical weapons

and the skin melts off the bones

as they scream in anguish..”


or depicting Socialism as “a commendable but impossible idea,” because “too many will take advantage and someone will always burn my eggs,” implying the lack of motivation to strive and achieve anything beyond the average under such societal arrangements. Commenting on the situation in Afghanistan, a country he has visited, he paints a stark contrast between the life of his cat and the carnage in that war-torn nation. Both in his social commentary and his poems on other subjects, Adubato’s language remains simple and colloquial, and lacking in pronounced lyricism most readers anticipate to encounter when reading poetry. Adubato is perceptive without being overly analytical. He acts as an observer whose task is to state facts without aestheticizing them for art’s own sake.

            That there is no place or experience too small or trivial to ignite a poet’s imagination and musings upon life is reflected in the verses below, where a bird’s joyful feeding on figs is juxtaposed with the poet’s feeling of having been force-fed the remains of the day:


“Noisy bushy birds eating

Silent figs just outside

Against a ripped

White sky

But what shall I call it

Who shall I say

Force fed me the

Remains of the day.”


            Adubato’s poems about his repeated visits to the famous Paris bookstore, Shakespeare & Company are a testimony to how he is able to see one and the same place with eyes full of newness and renewed delight. “Back to a not so simple time, but just another time in a magical place.”

            For that reason, he never stays trapped in the routine or turns jaded. External places continue to seep their magic into the soil of his soulscape sowing seeds of poetry that ushers readers into the cadences of places new and old. He imbibes and inhales droplets of ordinary life and turns them into self-contained poetic universes. Even the drabbest of moments is worthy of a verse, such as “these first days of the month…are usually non-descript, …which is why I am not trying to describe February first, but just endure it.”

            As a chronicler of ephemeral and mundane moments, Adubato coaxes readers into the heart and the rhythm of the ordinary, inviting them to not let such moments go unnoticed

and to gaze at them long enough until they discover the wonder, beauty and solace hidden in them like pearls in the oysters of time.



Jana Begovic,

novelist, poet, Senior Editor of Ariel Chart Literary Journal

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  1. Ebook:

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  2. fine write up. this writer is gifted and deserves support.

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