cover image Songs from a Mountain

Songs from a Mountain

Amanda Nadelberg. Coffee House (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-56689-434-0

If an oracle’s pronouncements were pitched into the cacophony of modern life and then retuned as scrambled wisdom coalesced into poems, what might result is this third collection from Nadelberg (Bright Brave Phenomena), a wild, careening, conceptually wily (yet somehow ruly) book that refuses to keep its feet on the ground. “Let me go again into the/ epileptic air that will render a body capable or/ less dumb to the sun signaling its framed song,” she writes early on, before noting “how the act/ of putting your shoes on is a set of expectations.” Such incisive moments stand out against the collection’s ruling chaos, especially in the longer poems (“I Steal Care 4 U,” “Mont America,” “Rad Silence Crystal Weapon Wave Mont”). It is there that Nadelberg most consistently hits her stride in a tumbling, almost overwhelming medley of various sources, even as many of the shorter poems in the collection offer elegance (“nothing could/ be clearer and everything was”) and sly riffing off their titles (for instance, in “Big Data”: “like porn I wonder if I’m/ being impossible in a new/ way. People have tickets/ for the theater. Push the/ plant into the sun.”). Through the de- and recontextualization of what was first familiar and is now strange, Nadelberg establishes herself as an exemplar of early 21st-century artistic practice. (May)