from “The Woman in White”

which will be published in THREE NOVELS
coming in Fall 2011 from Omnidawn






Whence the plot’s precipice folds over, an envelope from which

more secret still,

                                    the ghost falls      Shoved



Likewise, no asylum



Treasure hidden beneath its embroidered counterpane

is a mere self






                                                and foreign, she meant: self






*






Doubling

all undone, her

                        (or her)

            white membranous rind slips

burnt away



At once the creature’s pelt embraces itself and all its kind–






                                                            The land’s grace incarcerates, redoubles itself






*






                        Down the linen burrow
and into the ether



How does the hollow of the land make full its vow

the clouds filled her mouth as she spoke:



                                                                                    no,

                                                                                                            choking



Materialized as a frail part of the body glancing backward






*






Like that from which she pushed herself,

pushed her feral likeness



                                                Transported



another death
                                    – the satin open air caught afire



              as the open shift shows the bosom,

just off-balance


                                                Cheapened fabric

ignited
by any attempt to recognize






*






The forlorn neck
turns toward
            and turns toward inkling



                                                Innocent imposture



Soft
little animal,
mild pelt it once wore
                                                Diaphanous skeleton she lifts, to ward off the several
                                                blows who

constitute world, gown, and endless downy lawn





















Author Statement:

When I was a young child, my father read to me. He started with Sherlock Holmes stories and proceeded through Gogol short stories and then on through the novels of Wilkie Collins. To this day, The Woman in White remains my favorite novel. In the aftermath of my father’s death, I decided to revisit my earliest introduction (via his reading) to literature. I feel deeply attached to Collins’ novels because of the pleasure of that work that I shared with my father. It strongly influenced my own desire to become a writer. At the same time, as I reread Collins, I was struck by the role of the female characters in his novels: agents, with their own desires and worldviews, who were at the same time strangely passive as a result of the constraints on Victorian womanhood. In The Woman in White, the female protagonists are tangled in a series of relationships closely tied to the inheritance of an estate. My exploration in my own poem entitled “The Woman in White,” had to do with how this land created a sense of the pastoral and how that implicated an understanding of the feminine. Somehow, in my mind, this tied me back to my absent father, and a different legacy, that of shared language.



Author Bio:
Elizabeth Robinson is the author of eleven books of poetry (including Three Novels, from which this feature is excerpted. Three Novels is forthcoming from Omnidawn in Fall 2011). Her most recent books are The Orphan & its Relations (Fence Books) and Also Known As (Apogee Press). Robinson was educated at Bard College, Brown University, and the Pacific School of Religion. She has been a winner of the National Poetry Series for Pure Descent and the Fence Modern Poets Prize for Apprehend. The recipient of grants from the Fund for Poetry and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Robinson has also been a MacDowell Colony Fellow. Her work has been anthologized in the Best American Poetry (2002) and American Hybrid, along with many other anthologies. Robinson has taught at the University of San Francisco, the University of Colorado, Boulder, Naropa University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She co-edits EtherDome Chapbooks with Colleen Lookingbill and Instance Press with Beth Anderson and Laura Sims.

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Who: Sharon Zetter & Christine Hume

What: Studio One Reading

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

When: Friday, June 3, 2011 (doors always open 7pm ; reading 7:30pm)

 

Review written by Jared Alford, Omnidawn’s Facebook Editor

 

This Studio One reading, both the last of the Spring and the first of the Fall, features Sharon Zetter and Christine Hume. Host Clay Banes opens with an apologetic and jesting tribute to the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party of China’s founding, which will exempt the Studio One event we might hope for come Friday, July 1st, meaning the next won’t be until August 5th, feat. Laura Sims and Claudia Keelan.

 

But, presently, Sharon Zetter—one of Studio One Art Center’s own employees, a co-founder of The Dacha Project, an off-grid educational homestead dedicated to creating sustainable living practices for working artists, located outside of Ithaca, New York, and a 2009 MFA graduate of St. Mary’s College of California—reads her smattering of poems concerning “How what is, and what is not” (“Gesture”). “Ruins, stains, artifacts, abandoned dystopia,” “a young man grafted terrain,” and all manner of leftovers from the “slaughter of the older culture,” span the bleak horizon issuing from her deliberate monotone.

 

Then Christine Hume—author of three books of poetry, most recently Shot (Counterpath, 2010), and a Coordinator of the interdisciplinary Creative Writing Program at Eastern Michigan University—prepares her counterpart, a series of diversely styled recordings, each accompanying its own poem, while explaining how Dr. Seuss’ “Soggy Muff” line from the Too Many Daves story influences her writing, here ultimately an effort to pose sleep as “a liberation through inaction,” allowing her to set stake in “ontological fatigue” (Studio One interview). She hazards each poem against the recordings, producing an often polyvocal resonance without harmony or symmetry, perhaps instead with “an incompetence built into language, a verbal uncertainty that threatens… fluency,” as though she were “Self-Stalked“ with eerie lullabies, or exhuming herself with the rote participles of her husband-poet Jeff Clark’s “creeping going scratching.”

~~~~~~>

 

Self-Stalked

Christine Hume

 

I looked in all eight directions then spread out my tiger’s skin. Before the public mind kicked in, I surveyed an inner shore.  Its facets operated on me. I lost my lights and began my midnight thus: mental feet, mental lake, little mental pines, mental mile around the muzzle. I aimed my automatic at that outlandish organ hanging in the sky like a dazed stone. Its sea expression wet the evening; I captained the tempest there. Looking too long into the distant human pupil, I sharpened my harpoon. But my hands could not be organized. I wanted to tightrope up there on a mental binge. I reached for my quiver, my bird descended a failure one depth below time. The moment rotated, aggravated. Its color was extreme. In a heavy steel helmet, I matched that orb and tried to tackle it by a million mental muscles. The more I beat it, the more I couldn’t see it. If I could turn it open like a glass knob, feel my way into its diamond cave. If I could tongue out its creamy mouth. If I could tickle it and bounce it on my knee. If I could dress it up. If it would fist me, if I could force it. The more I battered that moon, the more I could be it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~>

 

and shipped to a new address: strange,

 

Sharon Zetter

 

We forget where thought originates

after asking the question:

 

have we come to the lacuna?

 

We are unclear if we are which persons.

 

If a woman pares the lamb

can we be both alive and immortal?

 

Another re-birth for the holy.

 

Trace me to the vespers:

who you are and what you have seen.

 

Or imagine a table where barrels hang.

 

How the potential is

an arrival: every-angle.

 

If a man affix glass to stem:

any face can be a mirror.

 

Lean in closer—

 

I have something to speak

which requires your knees.

 

Our plans are with each other,

so we sit for the train.

 

Bodies anticipate

blur: a rub of cold.

 

Sutures.  Bait. 

 

Your hand shadows the kitchen,

a circle of human pain.

 

Stutter.  Belief.

 

A meadow undoes the wait.

Here: slaughter of the older culture.

Can paralysis be defeated?

 

Or is an Other no longer valid

or comforting in this moment.

 

Why wonder: what lights

can be seen by the eye

that are not moving?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~>

After many years of curating the Omnidawn blog, Craig Santos Perez will be stepping down from his post as senior blog editor in order to focus on his teaching career.  He will continue to serve as Omnidawn’s media advisor, and we are grateful for all his hard work as senior blog editor and for all the insight he is sure to provide in the future.

Assuming the role of senior blog editor will be Gillian Hamel, who has been with Omnidawn in various roles since January 2010, recently including poetry editor and web publicity manager.  Welcome, Gillian!

Omnidawn’s Fourth Annual First/Second Book Poetry Contest

Judged by C. D. Wright:

The winner receives $3,000 prize, Fall 2012 publication by Omnidawn, and 100 copies of the book. The poetry contest is open to any poet writing in English who has not yet published a second full book of poetry (chapbooks do not count). Electronic and postal submissions to the poetry contest will be accepted from April 1 to July 15, 2011. (Note that the deadline has been extended from the original June 30 deadline.)The poetry contest entry fee is $25.00. Entrants who send $3 shipping cost receive the winning book or any Omnidawn book of their choice. For details visit the Omnidawn website here.

HELIOS CREAM

Wiped it out, just wiped out the desk — scaffolding dismantled — in the helios cream of 9 A.M. — ornament air — if air could shower or flood — wiped out the cylinder seals, the belligerent calculator, the bottomless tray with its unanswered letters, broken knobs, chopped shards, mushroom tips and grinder ash… Who was sitting with his back to the window, a wedge in molten light, as the bedposts flickered and the book spines faded in the wavering grid, the foaming scarlet drapes bled out — vanish swagger — memento by memento released… Perched on the prong of a giant tremor he scrambled to attention and shook his head like a tambourine. How many thirsty words flew out of his wide-open mouth? With lips flapping like gathering wings he clambered up the rock-pile, clausal, operatic, replete. In the courtyard at midnight at midnight I listened to his warble and wail, calibrating the measures that would unwrap and unleash me: choral orthography, archival vanishing points, pointillist clover, voluble lullabies, lapidary fishtails, thrumming abrasions, floral contingencies, radial timbres, crackle, fissure, stitch, and brine… I held my face in a gash of light and went under…

*

MY DEMOCRACY

Where do you look and how do you look? Architects in doorways — bombshells of cryptic shrubbery — to catch a ripple and go Delphic… One small orchid perfuming the whole room, green leopardskin flippers and purple skirt: applause! Sap on the trees in the morning gleam: mercury light. Into your brown eyes magnetic climbing a trellis of rubbed skin, maneuvered into place, ascendant socket… If we are revelers, ordinary shoulders and hips; if the acrobatic blankets yanked back reveal primary apparatus — versatility bulb — stammering ballads and blues — in the jangling pride or no-pride close-up — reciprocal fraternity — it clarifies attention, of this regard, within a palpable frame, honing and homing, relaying focus, without edifices or rules a mutual institution, snug as citizens…

*

BRUJA

Alcove of the shade tree, under which they neck and whisper… and gather their tribe. She stencils the tilt of their heads from her perch on the iron bench, their dreamy eyes and smiles. Migrating neurons: It’s as if a baton streaking the air laid them bodily onto her page… In the mounting embrace there in the plazuela Obregon under a fresh puff of filtering clouds she slips their oyster into her shell — among the milling Sunday throng — what she’s been waiting for — on the edge of the bezel that is her acquiring art — like a dusty hatbox suddenly filled with living pulp — fluted swells — in a brazen reversal of nostalgia… She is their growing stalk, their link, their flowering rod, their helix tunnel and their watering hole. They are her guardian foil, her carnal frame, her forgiven stitch, her undertow and magnum light. Connected silently bench to bench, shadow to shadow, spark to spark, they arc and flow, flow and arc…

*

SCOUT

Rippled purr — with a shrug I fling myself under the table — fetal tangle — potion jammed in each fist — down the lexicon in a shape-shifting gulp — where a café on the Bridge of Owls joins the ancient in-road to the city’s center… tremor of epochs… a sanctioned fable of days… You can stretch your hands, wing-man, and touch the leaning houses on opposite sides, flaring orange, mauve, and blue like an aviary… the street pitched vertical, winding narrow, a wisp of direction for this convergence… to fill in the cracks, sink underpinnings wide as lake beds, set the ravine to humming. I put down my luggage — such an unintended mountain of cracked teacups and wicker bibs, alpaca bedrolls and silicone boots! — to spread the surging city before me, a vast net of firing pins, constellation magi… as I lie on my side with measured breath… this murmuring atlas, swarm of inflections, this hot particle flood… and follow…

Author Statement:

These poems, from my new collection, Citizen, continue my entrancement with the prose poem, begun in The Graces,published in 1983 — so for loosely thirty years — when my long Whitman-inspired lines got so long that they were setting themselves as prose as they returned to the left margin to continue their wandering. And really what form could better suit my volubility, love of textual saturation, and sense of perpetual divagation? I am not now and never have been a minimalist. I have a very old memory from Anna Karenina where her son, so excited to see her, jumps into her lap and wiggles around in her arms so as to be able to touch her with his body everywhere. That’s me here: I want to touch poetry everywhere. Or to put it another way: Reader, please: Touch me everywhere!

Author Bio:

Aaron Shurin has written ten books of poetry and prose, most recently King of Shadows from City Lights, and Involuntary Lyrics from Omnidawn. He was once a member of the collective The Wasted Lives for Peace but is now a Professor in the MFA Writing Program at the University of San Francisco.

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.
 
*
 
“Dear Fruit”

Amanda Nadelberg
 
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.
 
*
 

From “Metropole”

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

Kazim Ali, who is the translator (along with Mohammad Jafar Mahallati) our new chapbook Water’s Footfall by Sohrab Sepehri, has a new book out from Tupelo: 

Fasting for Ramadan: Notes from a Spiritual Practice, essays by Kazim Ali * Tupelo Press

Publication Date: April 30, 2011 * 212 pages

$19.95 * paperback original * ISBN 978-1-932195-94-1

$29.95 * clothbound gift & library edition available May 2011 * ISBN 978-1-936797-03-5