Set in present-day Southern California, Antidote for Night is a heartbreak lyric, a corrido, a love song to California’s city lights and far-flung outskirts—the San Diego backcountry, the Central Valley, the Inland Empire, and the Mojave Desert. A book of remedies for dire circumstances, rock-bottom realities, and the unrelenting weight of mortality, specifically among young men of color, this collection shows what it takes to see in darkness. Marsha de la O’s voice is a kind of free jazz, musically rich with L.A. noir and the vastness of metropolitan Southern California.
“Splendidly incisive, de la O doesn’t so much observe landscapes as create them, just as her father ‘conjured this city, / my labyrinth, our treasure’ while navigating the ‘red snake / traffic.’ More significant is how she creates emotional landscape, suffusing her lines with both sorrow [and] longing. Strong portraits range from a honeybee to a sad-eyed former student who ends tragically, and the well-displayed natural world is folded into the human . . . A terrific discovery that many readers will find both illuminating and accessible.” —Library Journal
“The poetry of Marsha de la O continually alternates between two frequencies—the quotidian and the strange. And, like Transtromer or Bishop, she is a fearless investigator of those liminal states where everyday reality turns to terror—or to transcendence. It takes a craftsperson of extraordinary gifts to undertake such sojourns, yet Marsha de la O has all the skills and all the character to complete the tasks she has set for herself. Her poems are bracing, frightening, and—I would go as far as to say—prophetic. Antidote for Night is, quite simply, a remarkable accomplishment.” —David Wojahn
“I've loved the poems of Marsha de la O for many years, yet her newest collection, Antidote for Night, arrives like a revelation. These psalms of California past and present reflect a profound wisdom, one earned quietly and slowly, in the midst of the somber tides of those lives she celebrates. Don't miss these powerful and visceral meditations for the dark.” —David St. John
“For the power, mystery, intelligence, and ravishing beauty of her language, Marsha de la O has long been one of my favorite poets of the region. And with Antidote for Night, she is fully deserving of a national reputation and a readership as wide and broad as poets might be allowed in our particular age.” —Suzanne Lummis
“If I didn't know Marsha de la O was a former schoolteacher, I'd swear she was equal parts deep sea diver, alchemist, and sage. In her newest book, Antidote for Night, she dives fearlessly into the darkest waters and brings back the extraordinary, both delightful and painful, where we enounter 'unhinged saints' and 'trumpet players,' 'ragpickers' and 'neighbor girls' in a territory as familiar as de la O's beloved Southern California, and as unexplored as 'a river tumbling like raw silk through a gorge' or the 'slippery pottage of my heart.' A pregnant possum, the unforgettable ride down a highway, another woman vacuuming—take on dimensions you couldn't imagine before but know so true. Trust de la O's voice, as she welcomes the darkness that breathes and riffs through this luminous life.” —Amy Uyematsu
“Antidote for Night by Marsha de la O is a gem. This award-winning poetry book is written by a poet who is completely tuned into her world, never missing a nuance, observation or opportunity to invite the reader to join her in transcendence. These contemplative poems are a balance of the darkness and the light that we all face; always embracing the importance of family, birth, death, health, beauty and the natural world ... This is one of those rare poetry books that needs to be read slowly and listened to carefully. The messages here are profound and strong, akin to the psalms. They have wisdom and a musical quality that inspires us to read them over and over again.” —Dr. Diana Raab