The Wanting Way (Adam Wolfond)

Reviewed by Diane R. Wiener

The second book in Milkweed’s “Multiverse” series, Adam Wolfond’s The Wanting Way is a multi-sensory Crip adventure. Multiverse is comprised entirely of works written by Neurodivergent, Autistic, Neuroqueer, Mad, Nonspeaking, and otherwise culturally Disabled writers. I reviewed the first book in the series, Hannah Emerson’s The Kissing of Kissing, for Wordgathering.

Through experiencing Wolfond’s work, as Milkweed’s publicist, Morgan LaRocca notes, readers are asked “to slow down, get playful, and imagine a world more inclusive and understanding of the power of neurodiversity.” The “thin blue line” that threads throughout the book, as LaRocca explains, is “an inventive new form emerging from its already gorgeous verse.”

While I appreciate LaRocca’s enthusiastic description, readers will likely have their own distinct (and, perhaps, overlapping) experiences of Wolfond’s “thin blue line.” Today, I am encountering the blue line(s) as a kite-like stringing, with loops and interlaces tangling, its efforts encircling and linking specific words across the pages—beginning with the word “poems” on the book’s title page. These threads move fluently, purposefully, and fluidly; they are in tandem with and reflect my picturing of Wolfond’s expert hands on his iPad. As Wolfond describes on his website, “I am non-speaking and use an iPad text-to-speech application to communicate.”

When I began reading, I found myself immediately wanting to type out each of his encircled words, but putting them into any kind of sequence (let alone a seemingly linear one) would, I felt, have undermined their floating about uniquely and disparately in the book and somehow beyond it, as well. Yet, the circled choices, including “pace,” “lingers,” “mursted,” “dance,” “answers,” “walking,” “apprehended,” “time,” “uncertainty,” and “palimpsest”—among so many others—intrigue me greatly. These threads create poems within poems, a language embedded in the language (palimpsests, indeed). Wolfond’s musics are faceted and moving, like no others.

In “Bathing Snakes,” we learn that “Pace is lavishing / the way of undulation / slanging slanging / and slanging.” We as readers are addressed oftentimes; we are given advice, feedback, and other assertive suggestions. Or perhaps the poet is reflecting on their own insights and learnings. It seems, as happens in this poem, that both practices or “processes” are happening at once. The poet is communicating bidirectionally and multidirectionally.

In these ways, Wolfond’s apparently sought-after relationship with his eager readers makes for a mingling of both his own reflections and what might be bestowed to and shared with us through his musics and often whimsical while serious counsel. For example, as we learn in “Bathing Snakes,” we might “go to the talking and that / will ask questions that / want answers but / go to the feeling and you / watch how you know.” The word “real” is repeated numerous times in this poem, with an accompanying “shedding of snakeskin,” and “the languaging” leaves us with “a trace” (still more palimpsests!).

The titles of Wolfond’s poems often suggest the possibility of book reviews, on their own terms. As often happens to me when I read a book that I love (and I love this one, to be sure), I want to dive into and talk about several poems—even one or two poems—in very close terms. However, it is or would be impossible for me to choose which poems to engage in this way, for my review of the book would then likely become ten times as long as the book itself. This is because each poem of Wolfond’s is so evocative, it is its own cantata or symphony.

Take, for example, the first line of “A Typology of Water”: “Rain is mastering thought.” Or the last line(s) of “Owl Monkey vs. the Assembly”: “The owl monkey is like a pattering / animal that wants to keep patterning” (notably, “patterning” is circled with / by the blue line). As a hylozoist, I was happily taken in by “The Thinking Objects Do,” and found vivid and affectionate resonance, as a Neuroqueer person and poet, with the lines, “It is thinking with the objects so that I make / patterns. They have part / in the thinking too.”

Wolfond offers his readers a skilled and layered meta-communication, throughout, as well. In “The Game of Space and the Weight of Wanting Words,” he begins, “I open the world to think / about gaming the space. / I am wanting people / to understand what lines / of walking calmly feel / like and I want this poem / to be weightless.” He pays homage to nature, often, as in this poem, when writing: “I / thank gorgeous trees / for making the lines / that guide me.”

Perhaps the blue line(s) throughout the book is / are facets of a mycelial network, supporting the “gorgeous trees”’ communication and existence, making it possible to “[make] the lines that guide” the poet and—well, yes—the rest of us. Perhaps Wolfond would enjoy a mycological engagement. Maybe the book is a chunk of tasty gorgonzola cheese, its blue thread comprised of bacteria and fungi teeming in synchrony. I will ask Adam what he thinks about that idea, and whether or not he likes blue cheese.

“Eros of Bathing Stimming Dancing Pacing” includes the observation that there are “people who think autism is a problem.” In a related way, the last poem, “The Ripples Are Ongoing Acts,” concludes with the poet’s assertion, “I want us to pull / and pull into each / other’s ripples and / pull out the smallness / of the human in us.” The word circled in this poem, on the previous page, is “compassion.”

Title: The Wanting Way
Author: Adam Wolfond
Publisher: Milkweed Editions (Multiverse Series)
Date: 2022

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About the Reviewer

Diane R. Wiener (she/they) became Editor-in-Chief of Wordgathering in January 2020. She is the author of The Golem Verses (Nine Mile Press, 2018), Flashes & Specks (Finishing Line Press, 2021), and The Golem Returns (swallow::tale press, 2022). Diane’s poems also appear in Nine Mile Magazine, Wordgathering, Tammy, Queerly, The South Carolina ReviewWelcome to the Resistance: Poetry as ProtestDiagrams Sketched on the Wind, Jason’s Connection, the Kalonopia Collective’s 2021 Disability Pride Anthology, and elsewhere. Her creative nonfiction appears in Stone CanoeMollyhouse, The Abstract Elephant Magazine, and Pop the Culture Pill. Diane’s flash fiction appears in Ordinary Madness; her short fiction is published in A Coup of Owls. She has poetry and creative nonfiction forthcoming in eMerge. Diane served as Nine Mile Literary Magazine’s Assistant Editor after being Guest Editor for the Fall 2019 Special Double Issue on Neurodivergent, Disability, Deaf, Mad, and Crip poetics. Diane has published widely on Disability, education, accessibility, equity, and empowerment, among other subjects. She is a proud Neuroqueer, Mad, Crip, Genderqueer and Enby, Ashkenazi Jewish Hylozoist Nerd who is honored to serve in the nonprofit sector–including as a Zoeglossia Board member. You can visit Diane online at: