Berkeley Talks: Poet Aria Aber reads from her 2019 book ‘Hard Damage’

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portrait of aria aber smiling

Aria Aber (Photo by Sally Wen Mao)

In this episode of Berkeley Talks, Aria Aber, a poet born to Afghan refugees and raised in Germany, who now lives in Oakland, California, reads from her first book of poems, Hard Damage, published in 2019. The early November reading was part of the UC Berkeley Library’s monthly event, Lunch Poems.

Here’s her poem, “Dream with Horse”:

Already, November makes a fool of me. Sun secretes its tacky, yellow gauze on what the snow melt has divided. Slaughterhouse. The domesticated nag. I am at a loss in the shadow of the spruces. I freeze. A faint scent of equine. Taught as a tuning fork, I meditate on the horse’s heavy meat, its nostrils glistening like a liver laboring to breathe. The real shackle of course isn’t my flesh, but my mind’s harness committing its slow violence through my eyes. Looking for a sign, I smear on snow my sputum, then hair. Not a day passes that I pass as belonging here.

Lunch Poems is an ongoing poetry reading series at UC Berkeley that began in 2014. All readings happen from 12:10 p.m. to 12:50 p.m. on the first Thursday of the month. Find upcoming talks on the Lunch Poems website and watch videos of past readings on the Lunch Poems YouTube channel.

Listen to the full reading in Berkeley Talks podcast episode #103: “Poet Aria Aber reads from her 2019 book Hard Damage.”