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 ...
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.
“... 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
Noftle's first book of poems—she is a singer-songwriter and former art student—launches with a slimy sequence about sea slugs. Her surreal, luscious language evokes the sexy ooze and play of underwater invertebrates (the sea slug's heart is "a slipknot of mucus") but is occasionally undercut by syntactical sloppiness: "We see the shore is nothing but a line our eyes make, searching for names where the water ends and sand begins." After the sea slug section, which is captioned by factoids sourced to a natural science web forum, the poems about painting are clear and intellectually assured—"I've personally never used the gloss. It hardens my brushes and I'm/ unaffected"—and the work takes on an appealing voice. Throughout, parasomnia (disruptive sleep behaviors) and somniloquy (sleep talking) are used as metaphors for consciousness and perhaps to shroud disturbing autobiographic details. Attempting to invoke a sleep/wake state known as hypnagogia, the poet simultaneously remembers and forgets the trauma of the primal scene: "If I can float/ on my own language I can submerge/ this memory." VERDICT Textured, energetic poems about tactile perception that sometimes feel unfinished; lovers of contemporary poetry may want to investigate.—Ellen Kaufman, New York
Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)
Meet the Author
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.
What We’re Making: The First Coat
Rapid Eye Movement
I Follow You All Through the House with My Ears
Sleeping with Mr. Z
Sunday Night Insomnia
He Drinks His Merlot from a Flower Vase
Parts for the Whole
The Case of Mr. Falater
Take a Photograph of Us Here
The Right Side
What We Make
The Locking and Unlocking
What We’re Making: Replication
I Am the Vine, You are the Branches
God of Children
What We’re Making: The Fifth Season
Hypnagogic is a Sound