By Geoffrey G O'Brien
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
ISBN# 9781933517728 (5.25x8 128pp, paperback and limited edition hardcover)
In his most autobiographical collection to date, Geoffrey G. O’Brien explores—via the ‘promise of happiness’ in great works of art—the dream of a working freedom not relegated to a seventh day of rest. Crossing traditional poetic materials with contemporary political struggles, O’Brien leads the reader to a space of emergent voices and captures the complex feelings of the present.
Listed in The New Yorker's best poetry books of 2013
[O'Brien's poems] bring to bear the full resources of English prosody on our insane political present while also maintaining a position of wonder before the material world.
Ben Lerner, The New Yorker
This [collection] proves to be an intriguing, thoughtful, and ambitiously layered collection, drawing from the past to hold a mirror to the present.
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
People on Sunday is a vital, timely book which recognizes its relation to its historical moment with acuity and scrupulous restraint. It is a remarkably open and varied work, full of hope and doubt, pleasure and remorse, tenderness and acerbity. Anyone interested in where American poetry is going will need to read it.
Oli Hazzard, Times Literary Supplement
My first read through Geoffrey O’Brien’s new collection, People on Sunday, induced a kind of dazzled bafflement...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.” You might think this would make for a poetry of despair or irony, but oftentimes it’s just the opposite: “We decided to rebuild our home again / In the intermittent sun, strangers with arms / Linked to protect the thing behind them.”
Robyn Creswell, The Paris Review
O'Brien's meditative poems -- both lyric and lapidary -- interrogate the forces that press us into patterns we don't recognize.
Dean Rader, The Huffington Post
With previous work, O'Brien (Metropole, Green and Gray) was applauded for his masterful deployment of contemporary avant-garde and traditional formal devices, but the new book is formally looser...As for the actual words, there's nothing here of the red-hot rhetorical pikes typical of resistance poetry. The lines are even-tempered with a sobriety that's almost grim, then almost serene.
Jena Cutie, Chicago Review
To read O’Brien is to take pleasure in the determinism that prods our indeterminism forward through time. To read O’Brien is to experience experiencing in an experienced way.
Kent Shaw, The Rumpus
From language play to enriching subjects, O’Brien has mastered an artist’s (or poet’s) dream—making the audience want more.
Kelly Sylvester, New Pages
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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