Around seventy-five friends, colleagues, and fans of poet Amanda Nadelberg showed up at The Soap Factory on Friday, April 27, to celebrate her second collection of poetry, Bright Brave Phenomena. In fact, a good amount of the audience remained standing at the back and off to the sides of the organized folding chairs during Nadelberg’s reading. The event was my first time attending anything at The Soap Factory, best known for its Haunted Basement every Halloween, and it was a pretty great introduction to the historic National Purity Soap Company building turned artworks laboratory.
Eric Lorberer of Rain Taxi, who co-sponsored the event with Nadelberg’s publisher Coffee House Press, welcomed and thanked everyone for their support. Lorberer was also sure to emphasize the importance of collaboration and supporting each other’s organizations as a way of strengthening the Twin Cities literary community. Fellow Coffee House poets Greg Hewett and Sarah Fox each read a short poem written in honor of Nadelberg. However, the best part of the introduction was Coffee House publisher Chris Fischbach’s homage—the first poem Nadelberg ever sent to him. Unsurprisingly, Nadelberg was charmingly mortified.
Actually, Nadelberg was just plain charming. The Carleton College and University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop alumna was refreshingly unassuming, and her poems were striking . . . and fun. She engaged the audience as if she was just hanging out on a, well, on a Friday night. She even prefaced one poem by asking if anyone else had heard the news that Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon just renewed their vows. Nadelberg’s unpretentious demeanor would have made the newest newcomer to poetry feel comfortable, while her distinct form and style would have satisfied an avid poetry reader and poet alike, such as Coffee House’s Lightsey Darst and Ed Bok Lee and Graywolf Press’s Dobby Gibson, all of whom were there Friday to cheer on Nadelberg.
The reading was followed by ice cream from Cafe Crema, where Nadelberg was once employed, and a book signing by the author. Like most everything else that fine evening, the signing was simple and very informal—Nadelberg floated between the small groups of clustered fans with a smile, laugh, and signature. Nadelberg’s approachable yet challenging poems warmed the coolness of the stripped-down Soap Factory. I’d say the night was a perfect example of the energetic “litster” scene in the Twin Cities and a success for all involved—poet, publisher, sponsor, and audience. A very solid end to the week/start to the weekend.
For more on Amanda Nadelberg and Bright Brave Phenomena, check out her author page (with interview!) at http://www.coffeehousepress.org/authors/amanda-nadelberg/#author-books.
Have a different take on this event? Chime in on the comments below! Be sure to check the schedule to the right and the Twin Cities Literary Calendar and be at the next LitSeen attended event. See you around!