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Cole Swensen

Omnidawn Pocket Series

2017 • 64 pp. 5 1/2 x 7"
Poetry / Poetry - Nature

$11.95 Paperback, 978-1-63243-037-3

“Swensen has long been fascinated, it would seem, on the medieval histories and landscapes of France, specifically on how humans have attempted to domesticate the landscape (from her engagement with... [continued in Reviews below]”—Rob McLennan,

A poetry-essay meditation on the cultural and physical forces of the river

A river is a rift that joins what it divides, and so, logically, mythically, it’s always a river that cuts this life off from every other. A river determines every layer of all the lives along its entire length—the industry, the agriculture, the cultural possibilities, the historical imperatives, the reigning aesthetics, and so much more that cannot be or simply never happens to be traced. This account of a river attempts to embrace them all.

Reviews / Endorsements

“Swensen has long been fascinated, it would seem, on the medieval histories and landscapes of France, specifically on how humans have attempted to domesticate the landscape (from her engagement with a variety of elements from the Medieval period and into the Victorian, from gardens to architecture to painting to gravesites). In Gave, Swensen composes an intriguing structural binary through the narrative, utilizing prose poems that are more informative against poems constructed out of fragments and staggered lines in a curious echo of work by Susan Howe (but blended, as opposed to the more defined lineations between Howe’s prose and collage-poems).”—Rob McLennan

“. . . Cole Swensen’s 'Gave' is a provocative, direct, and profoundly exhilarating book of poems that transform the isolated, beautiful image of a French river into a universal metaphor for humanity’s transcendent impulse to make a living habitat of eternity. Swensen’s poems expand imaginative possibility as she invents new opportunities for spiritual growth through courageous aesthetic innovation.”
—Sonja James,
Journal News

“Here is a poem that flows just like its river, fresh and startling, chafing at its borders, fingering traces deep along the grooves of history, bringing us a burst of relief just when the weight of literary production seemed to have stunned us into torpor. Swensen’s work is like a draught of cool water in the dog days of summer. She shows us how to cross, how to span, how to navigate, delight, and hold steady in the sometimes dangerous curves of human and geological time, ever recursive, like bends in the river.”—Eleni Sikelianos, author of The Loving Detail of the Living and the Dead

From the Book:

no river rivers / no river knows
of rivers after / on others wander
on fields is gone / now go
who goes there / or so
is gone over water
over flowing / the flower the fortune of winter / oh so
over towered / after tower / who is
now the green walking
on walking / on river is the river walking inside
a herd of / and lowered
is combing
to the edge of / the bank of
and inside it / it gathers
up the plain thing
all to a kind thing / is coming
the charge over-reaching if over a green thing / a bit
of a sun thing / a thing of the sun
watering none / but the
now on its own on a shore owing timely
a line of sheets out drying

COLE SWENSEN’s work has won the Iowa Poetry Prize, the New American Writing Award, and the National Poetry Series, and has been a finalist for the National Book Award and twice for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. Also a translator, she won the 2004 PEN USA Award in Literary Translation. She lives in Paris and Providence, Rhode Island.

Tue, 15 May 2018 13:50:48 -0500