Monday, December 21, 2009

What is Henri Cole reading?

Today's featured contributor at Writers Read: Henri Cole, a poet whose collections include the Pulitzer Prize nominated Middle Earth.

His entry opens:
At present, I'm reading an assortment of things: a new book of poems called Ninety-fifth Street, by University of Wisconsin philosophy professor John Koethe. It's his eighth book of poems and full of beauty and feeling. Most of the poems revisit memories -- of a boyhood in California, of becoming a man at Princeton and Harvard, early friendships with the New York School poets, and much more. I think of Koethe as a descendant of Wordsworth, mixing autobiography and memory, in his darkly ruminative, highly...[read on]
Henri Cole is the author of six books of poems: Blackbird and Wolf, Middle Earth (a finalist for the Pulitzer), The Visible Man , The Look of Things, The Zoo Wheel of Knowledge, and The Marble Queen. He is the winner of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Award, the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Berlin Prize, the Rome Prize in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, among other prestigious awards.

About his new collection, Pierce the Skin: Selected Poems -- 1982-2007, which is forthcoming in the Spring 2010:

Henri Cole has been described as a “fiercely somber, yet exuberant poet” by Harold Bloom, who identifies him as the central poet of his generation. Cole’s most recent poems have a daring sensitivity and imagistic beauty unlike anything on the American scene today. Whether they are exploring pleasure or pain, humor or sorrow, triumph or fear, they reach for an almost shocking intensity. Cole’s fourth book, Middle Earth, awakened his audience to him as a poet now writing the poems of his career.

Pierce the Skin brings together sixty-six poems from the past twenty-five years, including work from Cole’s early, closely observed, virtuosic books, long out of print, as well as his important more recent books, The Visible Man (1998), Middle Earth (2003), and Blackbird and Wolf (2007). The result is a collection reconsecrating Cole’s central themes: the desire for connection, the contingencies of selfhood and human love, the dissolution of the body, the sublime renewal found in nature, and the distance of language from experience. “I don’t want words to sever me from reality,” Cole says, striving in Pierce the Skin to break the barrier even between word and skin. Maureen N. McLane wrote in The New York Times Book Review that Cole is a poet of “self-overcoming, lusting, loathing and beautiful force.” This book will have a permanent place with other essential poems of our moment.
Visit Henri Cole's website.

Writers Read: Henri Cole.

--Marshal Zeringue