“the speaker identifies a keenly affective, almost poignant, attachment to place—the bluff is nothing, “but it’s what I have”—but the landscape remains distorted, defined more by what it... [continued in Reviews below]”—Julia Bloch, The Volta,
Kelli Anne Noftles poems reside in this space of threshold consciousness where a voice speaks to and from the other, hovering inside a liminal world of strange admissions and abstract silences.
Hypnagogia is the transitional stage between sleep and wakefulness—an intermediary moment of physiological limbo where hallucinations and out-of-body experiences commonly occur. Kelli Anne Noftle’s poems reside in this space of “threshold consciousness” where a voice speaks to and from the other, hovering inside a liminal world of strange admissions and abstract silences. Her book, I Was There for Your Somniloquy, was selected by Rae Armantrout for the 2010 Omnidawn Poetry Prize and is due for publication in early 2012. Armantrout describes the collection as a “destabilizing meditation on our divided selves: our split brains and checkered evolutionary pasts.” A somniloquy, a speech one makes in one’s sleep, weaves itself through the language, continually disorienting the reader and subverting subject matter, insisting there is a very precarious boundary between the conscious and unconscious, logical and illogical, dream and waking life. Other poems in this book dip below an oceanic unconscious, describing mating habits, taxonomy, and defense mechanisms of deep sea Nudibranchs (sea slugs). Noftle suggests not merely the analogousness between this species and ourselves, but creates an emotional expansiveness, exploring mysteries within and beyond the self.
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Reviews / Endorsements
“... the speaker identifies a keenly affective, almost poignant, attachment to place—the bluff is nothing, “but it’s what I have”—but the landscape remains distorted, defined more by what it lacks than by what it resembles. At the same time, these passages about Southern California capture the vacancy that can so often characterize those places: a canyon plunging into nothing or rising into smog; things that fall short. “No one told me how / much space to leave / for silence” (37), Noftle writes in “Sunday Night Insomnia”; later, in “Ars Poetica”: “In a house, I am following myself, / one mirror after another. / Not only myself, / but also in relation to” (52). These are poems that place the objects of modern life in relation to themselves and to the gaps in our memory of them, poems that ask provocatively again and again about the stability of our own vision.”—Julia Bloch, The Volta
“Kelli Anne Noftle’s I was There For Your Somniloquy is a thrilling, destabilizing meditation on our divided selves: our split brains and checkered evolutionary pasts. Here we are (in this book): hermaphroditic chimeras talking in what may be our sleep. We’ll know once we figure out what consciousness is. In Noftle’s arresting debut, we can slip from “comma” to “coma” with frightening ease. These poems are nimble, daring, and convincing. Get ready, if you can, for the things they will convince you of!”—Rae Armantrout, judge of the 2010 Omnidawn 1st/2nd Book Prize, author of Versed, which won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
Awake, reader! You are about to enter the world of Kelli Anne Noftle’s remarkable debut volume, I Was There For Your Somniloquy. These elegant, sensual, and reckless poems read like Ovid dreaming of the Twenty-First Century. Kelli Anne Noftle knows that we are all Sleeping Beauties, in our hearts and at our cores, each of us waiting for the hard and singular kiss of the world to bring us to our senses. These wise yet disarming poems remind us—all of us, not just poets—that what we hope to speak is often precisely what we have left to dream.—David St. John, author of The Red Leaves at Night, and co-editor of American Hybrid
The poems of Kelli Anne Noftle capture by turns the beauty, whimsy, fragility and vulgarity of nature’s most elegant animals, sea slugs—and of those who study them. In words as graceful as her subjects, she cleverly reveals aspects of the natural history, sex lives and biology of these colorful cousins of your garden-variety slugs, while also reflecting on the challenges we obsessive science-types face in studying such elusive beauties. I particularly enjoyed the brief back-story of each poem given at the bottom of the page, a little dash of edu-tainment for the reader. My students, colleagues and friends will delight in reading these artful depictions of my beloved critters, and you will too.—Patrick J. Krug, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, California State University, Los Angeles
From the Book:
You feel listless as underthings
unravel. At the bottom
of an ocean, near her neck
where the collar dips—some of the habits
you acquire are ancient.
On the one hand, you’ve been
cannibal, pausing only
to swallow light and motion. (It happens
so quickly, it’s already over.) In the other hand—
her jaw. Her eyelashes, rhinospheres, and that other
sensory sublimination by which you grasp only
through tangled weeds, against the under-
belly of waking, your insides, out.
Your heart, a slipknot of mucus.
And this question: if all the corresponding regions
make her sigh, then how did specializing
in your own desire become
so stereotypical, homo sapien?
KELLI ANNE NOFTLE grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia and has lived for the past 12 years in Southern California. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. As an undergraduate, she studied painting restoration and art history at the Lorenzo D’Medici School in Florence, Italy and also lived and worked with art students in a study abroad program in Paris, France. Her first publication, a personal essay, appeared in the Harvard Summer Review while attending the Harvard Extension Program during the summer of 2001. Although she was not academically involved in the writing program at Point Loma, she hosted a weekly open mic on-campus poetry reading and participated in several community open mic readings in San Diego. In 2005, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a Masters Degree in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California. There, she studied with poets David St. John, Elena Karina Byrne, Holly Prado, and Amy Gerstler. Mentored by Elena Karina Byrne, she interned at The Ruskin Art Club, host to poetry readings and workshops with award-winning published poets. It was then that she began reading contemporary poets and discovered early influences: Mary Ruefle, Charles Simic, Richard Siken, Larry Levis, and Martha Ronk. After receiving her Masters Degree in 2007, she focused on music, singing and performing with various Southern California indie-pop bands and musicians. Her singer/songwriter solo project, Miniature Soap, has performed many times in Los Angeles and she is currently recording a full length album at Red Rockets Glare Studio in West Los Angeles that will be completed by 2012. Over the past few years, her poems have appeared in several literary journals including: Anti-, Blackbird, The Baltimore Review, Colorado Review, Conduit, Cream City Review, The Greensboro Review, The Journal, The Nepotist, The Offending Adam, Oranges & Sardines, Quarter After Eight, and VERSE. Kelli currently resides in east Los Angeles, works as an assistant to the CEO of a shipping company near LAX, and is working on a second book of poems, a novel, and collaborating on a performance piece with a Los Angeles artist/actor.