July 18, 2004

John Olson & Roberta Olson

Sunday, July 18, 2004
Mountain Writers Center
3624 SE Milwaukie Ave.
7:30pm. $5 suggested donation.


The next installment in Spare Room's ongoing reading series features John and Roberta Olson from Seattle. Sample poems appear below.

John Olson is the author of Echo Regime and Free Stream Velocity. His poetry and prose poems have appeared in many journals, including First Intensity, Volt, Sulfur, New American Poetry, Experimental Theology and Talisman. His essays and literary criticism have appeared in the American Book Review, Denver Quarterly, Sulfur, The Stranger, and Rain Taxi.

Roberta Olson lives in Seattle with her husband John Olson and cat Toby
Olson. Her work most recently has appeared in the Seattle journals "Monkey
Puzzle" and "Bird Dog". Working mainly in collage, she tries to transform the
prosaic into encounters with the unknown.

For over two years, Spare Room has held readings, festivals, benefits, and other events celebrating several traditions of experimental and avant-garde poetry. Readings have featured poets from Portland as well as from around the world. For more information about Spare Room, e-mail spareroom@flim.com, call our dial-a-poem service at 503-236-0867, or visit our website at http://www.flim.com/spareroom

Upcoming Spare Room events include a reading by a reading by Nathaniel Tarn and Janet Rodney (both from New Mexico) on August 8th, and our second Sound Poetry Festival on August 28th.


Clam Chowder

Clam chowder petitions the mouth with reportorial pith. It is like a postcard for the palate, a succinct extract of the sea. The essence of the ocean is sampled in a spoon: fecundity, acerbity, agitation. Viscera, friction, froth. One thinks of Nantucket and Melville, heavy frigates with complicated rigging. It is not the weight of packed wet sand that comes to mind because I never went digging for clams. It is always something more indeterminate than that, something phenomenal and huge, like a postulate, or flavor. It is always the sea. It is always the pageantry of the sea. Terns reflected on the glistening sand of the beach. Snow accumulating in caps and paragraphs on coastal rocks. Rejuvenating winds. Debris in the bottom of a boat. Rags of meat in a locket of pearl. This is the journalism of the sea. What, why, and where in a bowl of onions, potatoes, and clams.

John Olson


Melon Collie

A watermelon is a sea of sweet sunsets with geographical ambitions. A few years previous, a simple and poignant Russian in America was looking for signs and - unfortunately - finding them. All the energy dormant in a bulb blew sand into the city. A violent gale drifted, unraveling the truth. Without an accurate map, my perceptions are my greatest weakness. Hire a chimney sweeper now, and make sure the chain is oiled. It is a bold and brutal history and the only cookbook you need. In the West Indies, I found three nieces opposed to my being there. The photos you swiped were a study of a brother and sister building radios that ouble as birdhouses. Oslo, for instance, is a wedding cake of ice. You can stand on a chair to put away the cake stand with eaglesportrayed in low relief. This action is either brief or indulgent. The chemistry of white depends on symmetry. Peroxide is a symmetrical molecule, useful if you can't stand eyebrows. The watermelon splits on summer ice; it is a study of a brother and sister who meander like Montana cottonwoods behind their father's death.

Roberta Olson