Open Books: Events
April 20, 2012 07:30 PM
SIERRA NELSON & ZACHARY SCHOMBURG
This promises to be an evening engagingly a-tilt as we welcome two innovative Pacific Northwest writers known for their sliding scale of surrealism, which can move from sweet whimsy to unsettling dreamscape.
A co-founder of The Typing Explosion and the the Vis-à-Vis Society, Seattle's Sierra Nelson has long been involved in creating works through collaboration with other artists and their listeners or readers. The latest result of her explorations is I Take Back the Sponge Cake (A Lyrical Choose-Your-Own Adventure) ($14.95 Rose Metal Press), a captivating volume she produced with the artist and writer Loren Erdrich, whose lovely and strange paintings accompany the poems. You can choose to read the book straight through and be beyond satisfied, but that method eliminates the pleasure of picking your path — your own adventure — through them. Erdrich and Nelson have followed each poem with a choice of two homophones (along with an example sentence), and the reader’s selection dictates what poem should be read next, as in, “Nay: no / Neigh: cry of a horse // ____________, she cried, and galloped into the distance. // If you choose nay, go to page 34. If you choose neigh, go to page 38.” And so within this book are many books. Each one intriguing.
“Your Small Ears are Necessary”
O bat face,
my eyes sting for you.
Strain for the tiny love pings,
I am your radar machine.
Out of my giant mouth
one of us is blinking
Morse code. Across the alpines,
Your small ears are necessary
With the publication of his first full-length collection, The Man Suit, Zachary Schomburg drew the well earned attention of many poetry readers. The Portland based writer, teacher, and co-editor of Octopus Books followed that with the appropriately titled Scary, No Scary and now has added to his powerful, odd, and touching body of work with Fjords vol. 1 ($14.95 Black Ocean). These little narratives unfold in quiet, almost flat prose, their still surface belying the swift currents within. They are confounding, compelling little plays — the curtain rises and falls quickly, but much has happened.
”Leaving the House”
I leave the house for the first time. Or, more accurately, the house rots away from around me. The sun is blinding. My parents look young and happy in the sand. Or they look relieved. They are playing volleyball, just the two of them, and they are doing the opposite of what you would think good volleyball players should do, working together to keep the ball in the air. There is nothing special about them. By this I mean we spill out of their bodies, and then they don’t take enough photographs, and then their bodies climb down a very tall ladder into a dark secret door just as they promised.