Geoffrey G. O’Brien to read Oct. 10

Author of People on Sunday and Metropole

I’d forgotten to pay attention for years
To a song I heard for the first time

At the end of a recent memorial,
An actual song by Strauss about going

To sleep, predicting one’s own death, etc.
Let me say this: I was surprised it kept

Going then surprised that it ended.

– From “Four Last Songs,” in the collection People on Sunday (Wave Books, 2013).

In Green and Gray (2007), his fearlessly experimental second collection, Geoffrey G. O’Brien fashions poetry from neighborhood fliers and political speeches, phrases from Dante mingling with texts from the Patriot Act and language from Jean Genet’s Querrelle.

That audacious mix of personal and political continues to inform People on Sunday (2013), O’Brien’s latest, and most autobiographical, collection.

Inspired by the 1930 German film of the same title, the book serves as a partial response to O’Brien’s own experiences of violence during the “Occupy Cal” demonstrations of November 2011.

“My first read through Geoffrey O’Brien’s new collection, People on Sunday, induced a kind of dazzled bafflement,” wrote Robyn Creswell in The Paris Review. “After a second and third reading, I find that O’Brien’s most urgent theme is the difficulty of writing public-spirited poetry at a time when “the poem / Is now believed to be the most distant / Object ever seen.”

On Thursday, Oct. 10, O’Brien will read from his work as part of The Writing Program’s fall Reading Series. The program is part of Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. O’Brien’s talk, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 8 p.m. in Hurst Lounge, Duncker Hall. A reception and book signing will follow.

For more information, call (314) 935-7428.

Geoffrey G. O’Brien

O’Brien’s other books include Metropole (2011) and The Guns and Flags Project (2002), both from The University of California Press. His chapbooks include Hesiod (Song Cave, 2010) and Poem with No Good Lines (Hand Held Editions, 2010). He is co-author, with John Ashbery and Timothy Donnelly, of Three Poets (Minus A Press, 2012); and, with Jeff Clark, of 2A (Quemadura, 2006).

O’Brien is an associate professor of English at University of California, Berkeley. He also teaches for the Prison University Project at San Quentin State Prison.