What: Studio One Reading
Where: Studio One Art Center, 365 45th Street, Oakland, CA
When: Doors-7:00, Reading-7:30
Who: Nik De Dominic, Amanda Nadelberg, Geoffrey G. O’Brien
Review written by Jared Alford, Omnidawn’s Facebook Editor
This latest reading in the Studio One series features Nik De Dominic, Amanda Nadelberg, and Geoffrey G. O’Brien. Opening at 7:00 p.m., the pristine interior of the Studio One Art Center provides its guests for the first thirty minutes refreshments and aesthetics as refined as inviting, displaying in the warmly-lit front hall several visual works crafted during the facility’s weekly classes, offering in the interior showroom wine, beer, fruit, crackers, and cheese (for a nominal donation).
Sara Mumolo, one of Omnidawn’s own editors, and Clay Banes, Sales and Marketing Manager at SPD books, serve as hosts for the event, providing the accoutrements as well as the introductions—Sarah with her industry, warmth, and grace, Clay with an equally graceful but wry faculty for lead-ins: polished, hospitable, without pretension.
The first poet, Nik De Dominic, who is also an essayist, editor, and teacher in New Orleans, showcases his long poem inspired by apathetic men staring emptily at buildings through the windows of their cars, a poem which meanders through states often indistinguishably geographical and psychological, confusing “dream from memory from reality / from place from place.” An excerpt is included below.
Amanda Nadelberg steps forth as the second poet, reading poems from her forthcoming book, Bright Brave Phenomena, and a chapbook, Building Castles in Spain, Getting Married. Her poems, in syntax at once deliberate and subtly spasmodic, speak of “productivity-menus,” “lake-mountains,” and other quizzical “nonsense,” whether as “ethereal” as “holy bodies” or dismal as “misanthropes,” the poet wryly confessing, “I can’t be responsible for all that’s behind me,” though graciously holding herself responsible for the poem below.
Finally, Geoffrey G. O’Brien, recently tenured professor of UC Berkeley and author of the recently released Metropole, reads an excerpt from the long titular poem of that work, a self-described, “Why can’t we all just get along?” of form, in which disjunctive sentences maintained within iambic pentameter contained within three stanzas per page form a prose poem, a remarkable expression of poetic athleticism. He ends with a song written in reflecting upon Richard Strauss’ “Four Last Songs,” inspired most acutely by the remarkable compositional effect Strauss achieves in ending his funeral song precisely at the point at which it seems as though intending to become neverending.
Be sure to check out, in addition to the poems below, Studio One’s blog featuring an interview of Nik De Dominic.
“I sleep too much.”
Nik De Dominic
I sleep too much.
If I left myself most
the day away.
Several years ago
on the highway between
Alabama and Louisiana
Somewhere in Mississippi
I became unable to distinguish
dream from memory from reality
from place from place
from roadside fires and Waffle Houses
from the man-sized pines that litter
the highways of the southeast
places I’d never been I’d been before
fantastic things happened the night before:
You set fire to the cattle last night.
The whole field orange in the dark
the headlights of a passing truck.
Let the child out of the backseat
at the train station. Around us are
white fields and we say nothing,
we sell staircases and buildings.
Balloons. Let’s say repetition is very
bright. Muddy river. Dead dog. The
terrible terrible. My stolen car in
the hearts of others.
Emboldened to wear white I will
sleep tonight with all the lights on. This
all ends badly like weather we can’t
understand. Sometimes when no one’s
looking, I dance inside my bones—a
little something left to feed the
story, I am a terrible river but with you
I was a yellow shoe holding open a door.
Riding around in the park like a ship
the car was only itself.
My little sisters, don’t you know
about elephants, how they’re like
windows, especially broken with helmets
on as if thunder struck, just waiting
for you to pull up in a wagon.
People do terrible things.
What I found in the river
is the night we found each other.
Quiet, green, he laid down, my
head hurt like the top of a train,
a dog shaking clouds out of the sky.
I wear a helmet so you don’t hurt
me, I wear a helmet to keep a
heart. I am a small raincoat, you
are the weatherman. Fall down,
fall down. I mean the woods.
Geoffrey G. O’Brien
Remind me of the lines I’d like to quote again? They manage both the crisis and responses varied, falling into three main groups. The city can resist no metaphor until the poor have left and that they never do. If even small disaster strikes I’ll banish everything, respond without reacting (you can live downstairs), will walk beside you unobtrusively. In other words, you’ll have the room you need to build an ugly laugh from hypotheticals denied. Insisting to the end they aren’t old, this dream of pronouns
I can’t use because the color runs. Against my better judgment thought to sing of preferences, inclining towards the floating bags that people carry on. Their distribution spells a sign my paranoia’s justified the bus in stopping rhythmically at three block intervals determines us. I mean that from a window city life bears witness to the industry of bending joyful heads. Crowded in their giving up the hours pass inspection of containers at the ports, for now just one in twenty pulled
Over to the left misorchestrations, little shocks where two of them keep getting in each other’s way, as though directed, while a third looks on amused. Looking back I am the third, awake but like a background thrives that hasn’t happened yet. I speak to friends about the story they instead begin describing prices falling where they are, amazing verticalities the earth records in shifts to change the subject back. Years of this and you’ll be muttering wet wind in coastal grasses always works no more than going to