Upon the occasion of our Lois Dodd and Sharif Farrag exhibitions, Adams and Ollman invited Portland writers and poets to respond to a work on view.

Sharif Farrag, Bouquet, 2020, glazed stoneware, 23 x 15 x 18 inches.


for Sharif Farrag

by Jae Yeun Choi

in the clay mirror again
blushing and so sincerely
wagged my dog life
under fig leaf
enormous and spread.
there i followed every
accelerated whim
skirting my discernment off
into a drifted broad paradise
where the clock dropped out
bronzed and so handsy
under jackal code,
and i counted six slugs
in the crinoline like hours.
i was of the ant's mouth
sure and strengthy
pulled for miles by
peachy ropes knotted
at my ribs smelling of
rotting hibiscus i know the scent
representing the violence of inquiry
that special-interest small claims pressure
that draws such a swollen and furious
loneliness behind me.
still i stroked along
a bud of adulation
and tasted it on me stamen too.
i go willingly i told her
baby i come so willingly
mosquito unheeded in
the garden vault
kudzu i got
swept up by—
            the pain of never worrying
            over anyone any more than
            the even tones germinating
            behind chicken wire,
            a scowl the size of
            the current world on my lips.

Jae Yeun Choi's poems have been included in A Plume Annual, The Volta, Tin House, The Iowa Review, and Flying Object's It's My Decision series, among other publications, and with visual art exhibitions at the Lumber Room and Portland Museum of Modern Art, both Portland, Oregon; Page NYC, New York; 356 Mission, Los Angeles, 3 Days Awake Gallery, Los Angeles and Good Press, Glasgow.

Sara Jaffe on Sharif Farrag’s The Nourisher

William Beebe entered the bathysphere hungry. There’d been Danish and fruit at the send-off, but he was taking his own advice not to descend on a full stomach.

The gnawings set in at 100 feet. They were ignorable at first, inseparable from excitement. At 200 feet, the hunger was stronger. His gut wanted something from him. He distracted himself by exclaiming with Otis at the parrotfish out the porthole, by tightening a rivet come loose on the bench.

The deeper they got the more depth to his hunger. A scooped-out feeling, its own organ. The kind of hunger so greedy it would refuse a bite if it couldn’t get the whole bowl. At first what he craved was thick stew, rich with roots and meat. They kept going down. It was at 1,700 that they sank into the nest of eels. Out the small cloudy porthole, all he could see: wriggle and ooze, an elegance. He was always careful with metaphor. To say the eels’ movements were intestinal was to say he felt his own gut quiver. An eel sucked a worm down its mouth. To say the bathysphere’s walls felt permeable was to say that at 2,000 feet Beebe left the vessel. Not in mind but in stomach. To swallow and hunt. To feed what they fed on, to feel it.
Sara Jaffe is a writer, educator, and musician living in Portland, OR. Her first novel, Dryland, was published by Tin House Books in 2015. Her short fiction, essays, and criticism have appeared in publications including Catapult, Fence, BOMB, NOON, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She co-edited The Art of Touring (Yeti, 2009), an anthology of writing and visual art by musicians drawing on her experience as guitarist for post-punk band Erase Errata. She teaches in the Low-Residency Creative Writing MFA at the Pacific Northwest College of Art.

Sharif Farrag, The Nourisher, 2020, glazed stoneware, 13 x 11 x 17 inches.

“Sharif's piece brought me back to this obsession I used to have with the early diving vessel the bathysphere (sparked, of course, by the Cat Power song), and the early 20th century diver and zoologist William Beebe, who wrote a number of very beautiful books about his undersea adventures.”

— Sara Jaffe in an email to Amy Adams, October 2020

Lois Dodd, Wissemann's at Night, 2005, oil on masonite, 7 7/8 x 19 inches.


by Genevieve Hudson

Under a tree is evidence of fun: empty chip bag, dead cigarettes, bra. You walk down a road through the woods. Keep the river on your right, and you will find your way home. A car coming behind you sounds sick, wheezing and stammering, unable to breathe. The car moves past you, crunching up the morning stillness, and then stops. Dust rolls together loose and low around the taillights. A stalk of anxiety stands up inside you. You rearrange your body. “Fire,” says a voice from the car. “Fire!” You have come to a clearing in the woods. A hot color surrounds you. Smoke gets in your eyes. Suddenly, it is night. “Fire,” says the voice in the car. “Fire!” A roof lights up in the distance. A loud noise sounds like a beam buckling. The brightness is blinding. It pulls. You would get in the car if you could and drive away with this stranger, but there is nowhere left to go. You walk to the house because it is burning. Because it is burning, you walk toward the house.

Genevieve Hudson is the author of the novel Boys of Alabama. Their other books include the critical memoir A Little in Love with Everyone and Pretend We Live Here: Stories, which was a LAMBDA Literary Award finalist. They have received fellowships from the Fulbright Program, MacDowell, Caldera Arts, and the Vermont Studio Center. They live in Portland, Oregon.

sidony o’neal on
Sharif Farrag’s Watermelon Warthog Jug

Sharif Farrag, Watermelon Warthog Jug, 2020, glazed porcelain, 13 x 10 x 11 inches.
So will you inherit the name or not, sha? Unbend a few internal chords and meet land as more-than-upside-mouth. Enfouie it in loam you can’t touch with your tongue, run around, whip the wind with your sick glass glass glass. Hein. It’s time. And by that I mean rational and positive like the quotient of a real and a real pact. Aloud we might dream that all sweet numerator is pus. Or a bumpy triangle missing pores swishes past and you think of course it’s not always about poisoning you/that. i love you/that.

Knocking around some just-got-in-a-bit-ago I must say meeting this way, is not well, it may as well be a fucking tomb. Still we bundle across some histological absence. Wondering where being together makes sense, you might laugh. HMMM: the force of thought is not the best angle, it heaps fear. I hope you believe me when I say there will be more than one chance to set fire to it, my dear taxon. I want that wretched thing for you that no translation can.

sidony o’neal (b. 1988) is an artist and writer based in Portland, OR. Recent exhibitions include Sculpture Center, Fourteen30 Contemporary, and the Institute for New Connotative Action. Performances as a part of non-band DEAD THOROUGHBRED have been presented at Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Kunstverein Düsseldorf, Volksbühne Berlin, Performance Space New York, and If I Can’t Dance Amsterdam. o’neal’s writing has been published at Arts.Black and the journal of Women & Performance. Their chapbook LYFE IN A BOTTLE TREE BOTTLE was recently published by House House Press. o’neal is represented by Fourteen30 Contemporary.