Bay Area Lit Scene: Studio One Reading Series, December 2011

Review written by Juliana Paslay, Omnidawn’s Features Writer and Bookstore Liaison

Studio One Reading Series: December 2nd, 2011

Who: Brian Teare, Barbara Claire Freeman, Jenny Drai, Gillian Olivia Blythe Hamel, Sara Mumolo, and Elizabeth Robinson

What: Studio One Reading

Where: Studio One Art Center, 365 45th St., Oakland, CA

When: Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Studio One concluded their wonderful reading series by celebrating the printing of a chapbook called phrases/fragments, published by Sustenance Press. The reading featured all the writers from the anthology. It was a lively, well-attended event with a broad range of interesting poets.

The reading began with Brian Teare, the author of three books of poetry, most recently Pleasure, published by Ahsahta Press, which won the Lambda award. He wrote the introduction of phrases/fragments but read some of his poetry. In a poem focused on patterns and questions he asks, “if human nature is to stand in the middle of a thing, what is nature?” His book Companion Grasses will be forthcoming from Omnidawn in 2013.

Next, Barbara Claire Freeman read for us. She is a literary critic and a professor at UC Berkeley. She read from a fascinating longer piece called ‘Datebook’ that describes itself as a “soundscape, in which running water echoes speech patterns.” She said the poem was less about the words and more about sounds. It contained lines such as “Scores collect and dissipate like oxygen.” She has excerpts from Hologram in phrases/fragments and most recently had a chapbook called St. Ursula’s Silence published by Instance Press.

Jenny Drai read a number of poems that dealt with what it means to be a voice. A poem titled ‘Joan of Arc’ particularly showed this, including phrases such as “sanctity laughs in abstract expression” and “they pummeled her again with the same fragment.” Included in phrases/fragments is an excerpt from a longer piece called ‘Visitors, Cavaliers’. She was a finalist for the 2011 Sawtooth prize from Ahsahta Press.

Gillian Olivia Blythe Hamel read from an untitled series of poems. The series is book-length and includes many compelling lines such as “My eyes were never north, pulled from east and buried again.” She also read from some poetry featured in the chapbook: “you in pieces heard / and further imagined part by part/the melody and counter harmony forgotten / among you.” Her work has appeared in the Calaveras chapbook series and she is a poetry editor and the managing editor of OmniVerse for Omnidawn.

Sara Mumolo read many poems from a series on nudes. Two from that series is included in phrases/fragments. One of these called ‘Nudes at Dusk’ includes the wonderfully alliterative line, “sunshine and shadow show her/shades and sun.” She also read from a poem titled ‘In regards to’ which had the line “in regards to your wish to trap the world, we are not dead.” Sara Mumolo has most recently had her chapbook March published by Cannibal Books. She is a poetry editor for Omnidawn and works in the MFA program at St. Mary’s College of California.

Elizabeth Robinson closed the evening by reading poems from a series about modernist figures. From her poem titled ‘Alfred P. Whitehead’ it says, “One leaf is not a whole truth” and then later “What I mean to say is the truth too is deciduous.” She also read from ‘Hibernaculum’ that is included in phrases/fragments. Her most recent poetry collection is Three Novels from Omnidawn.

The reading ended with Sara Mumolo, the curator of this series since 2008, saying a few words of thanks. The crowd enthusiastically applauded for the evening’s readers and for all of the readings of the past. It was an emotional moment for all of us. We will greatly miss these monthly readings. But we remain grateful for the excellent curatorial works that Sara Mumolo and Clay Banes have provided. Studio One will live long in our memories.