By Geoffrey G. O'Brien
Publication Date: April 3, 2018
ISBN# 9781940696669 (5.5x8 144pp, paperback)
ISBN# 9781940696652 (5.5x8 144pp, limited edition hardcover)
Experience in Groups sings and thinks the forms of belonging that organize our lives, offering poems that move with honesty and formal intelligence between the individual and the collective. In a time of ascendant fascism and creative political resistance, O'Brien's work demands that an elegy, love poem, and a sonnet sequence become occasions where personal tragedies and joys find a pattern and a place within national and global struggle.
O’Brien’s greatest achievement is that he never fetishizes himself or panders to his audience, a rarity these days in poetry. Although his poems are resolutely abstract and he seems to find no pleasure in the surface of objects nor has an urge to burden us with autobiographical data, there’s moments in his poetry when he does disclose his ordinary life (doing dishes or laundry or walking his dog and so forth) and the details, while utterly mundane, occur so rarely in his work that they elevate (rather than cheapen) our brief time here, unconsciously radiant and tragically doing things
O'Brien touches on the most pressing questions and dilemmas of being human in this time and place with welcome playfulness.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A lot of the poems deal with togetherness. They were us... To deal with togetherness, though, you have to deal with isolation, which the collection does. Experience in Groups deals with isolation and time, the restlessness knowing that we could spoil everything in an instant.
Cody Lee, Newpages
O'Brien strives to remain tethered to or at least in the gravitational pull of a lived reality where being-in-the-world is more than the inscribed concept.
Steven Felicelli, The Collagist
Geoffrey G. O'Brien is the author of Experience in Groups (Wave Books, 2018) and People on Sunday (Wave Books, 2013), as well as the author of Metropole (2011), Green and Gray (2007), and The Guns and Flags Project (2002), all from The University of California Press. His chapbooks included Hesiod (Song Cave, 2010) and Poem with No Good Lines (Hand Held Editions, 2010). He is the coauthor (with John Ashbery and Timothy Donnelly) of Three Poets: Ashbery, Donnelly, O’Brien (Minus A Press, 2012) and (in collaboration with the poet Jeff Clark) of 2A (Quemadura, 2006). O’Brien is an Associate Professor in the English Department at UC Berkeley and also teaches for the Prison University Project at San Quentin State Prison.
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