Bright Brave Phenomena

Poetry by Amanda Nadelberg

April 24, 2012 • 5.5 x 8.25 • 138 pages • 978-1-56689-303-9

Reminiscent of Stein and Schuyler, these poems build a playful and heartbreaking universe from ordinary moments, weather, landscape, and memory.

By turns disarmingly droll and hysterically sad, Nadelberg’s singular use of everyday language transports us into a world where uncanny juxtaposition and unabashed repetition engender entirely new meanings.

About the Author

Amanda Nadelberg is the author of Songs from a Mountain, Bright Brave Phenomena, and Isa the Truck Named Isadore. She lives in Oakland.

Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired. To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at info@coffeehousepress.org.


“Amanda Nadelberg’s poems . . . are jumping, funny, romantic, and frequently lyrical. She repeats words within a stanza, looping back to what you can later recognize as a theme, but which in the immediate reading is almost pure music.” —Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly

“Nadelberg’s touch is nimble without being precious, colorful without being tacky, and she confronts loneliness without dwelling, making her sorrow sting all the more with its deftness. . . . Her ebullient language captures the giddiness of love and youth.” Publishers Weekly

“The elegant bomb-blasts that litter Nadelberg’s poems have my attention.” Vouched Books

“Tender without being saccharine. Astute without pomp. A solid and unexpected collection.” Ostrich Review

“Sometimes the speaker in Nadelberg’s second collection . . . has tense personal moments: ‘I looked out / the big windows and you / were there too and all / there was to see was elephants / and angry elephants at / that.’ With inimitable everyday sparkle she also says ‘I /make horses whenever / I want.’” Library Journal

“Nadelberg’s second collection is a jumpy look at the ins, and especially the outs, of love. This poet has wildly capacious vision and a prickly sense of humor—there’s a bit of everything here, or everything here is in bits.” Publishers Weekly

“Nadelberg’s second collection offers dizzying shifts in scale and boldly propulsive logic from the stability of poems scrupulously attentive to what the aircraft industry calls ‘structural integrity.’ The familiar thrills and degradations of romantic love provide the book with much of its material, but Nadelberg’s hands render themstrange all over again: ‘I am a picnic. Sit down and paw / your hands at my basket arrangements.’ The transformations love ruthlessly performs on us attune the poet to the radical mutability of the self and her reality—more than just a picnic, she’s also toothpaste, an ostrich, and ‘the river in [her] own way,’ to name a few—but where others might succumb to the doldrums of skepticism or even madness, Nadelberg finds innumerable ways of pulling herself together. This is a beautifully affirming book.” —Timothy Donnelly

“Amanda Nadelberg’s Bright Brave Phenomena gives us a poetic speaker so youthful and mercurial that we immediately want to call her charming—except that she also warns, ‘I will spit / in the face of anyone who says I’m / charming.’ But the primary colors of the book are blue and yellow and green, and the ocean is never far away, and we are made part of ‘a whole / movement of people refusing to / leave their dogs at home.’ It’s all sun and solecism (‘Come on, I’m exciting to be with you’), wildly changing accents and registers, and things missed in the heat of the moment. ‘Shenanigans: yes. / Drama, no.’” —Ange Mlinko

“What we have here is a lovely collection of Nadelberg inventions. These inventions are for telling it like it is. In order to do this they variously prick your arm, burn down, protest, pretend, and dance, to name just a few. . . . These are indeed very Bright Brave Phenomena, that’s right.” —Rod Smith

“With an array of interwoven free verse poems enacting a strong sense of voice and character, Bright Brave Phenomena, Amanda Nadelberg’s second poetry collection, employs a tight, quick line to carry this fairly substantial volume.” LAReview

Bright Brave Phenomena is a system of resilient, big-hearted machines, the warm chaos of the light in the grass, or the grass in the light, a field of slightly glitched musics tending to the terrible loveliness that makes us human. . . . Good thing that Nadelberg’s poems remind us how many hearts we have, and how necessary it is to keep giving them away. Enjoy this book. It insists.” On the Seawall

Bright Brave Phenomena is clever and complex, convoluted and clear. . . . The poems all work, and they work together beautifully. Nadelberg’s slippages and intricate links often dazzle us, but she keeps the brightness controlled; we’re never blinded, never burned.” The Volta

“Propelled by a tender attention that resists anything being inconsequential, these poems delight in buoyant movements, establishing a logic based on wonder and emotional truth that asks, as desperately as it does joyfully, how is it we can touch the world knowing we cannot hold on to anything.” Coldfront