Blackbird and Wolf

Henri Cole, Author
Henri Cole, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $20 (59p) ISBN 978-0-374-11379-7
Reviewed on: 02/26/2007
Release date: 03/01/2007
Paperback - 59 pages - 978-0-374-53112-6
Open Ebook - 80 pages - 978-1-4668-7775-7
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In his sixth book, Cole wants to write "something highly controlled/ that is the opposite," and he succeeds. Once a poet of great formal control and dense, sometimes inscrutable lines, Cole (Middle Earth ) now writes simply and sparely, mixing autobiography, eros and the natural world in a voice that buzzes with emotion. Single-lined stanzas accentuate the poems' spareness, placing great pressure on each line. Cole can devastate ("I'm sorry I cannot say I love you when you say/ you love me,"), declaim in deadpan ("I have a fever which I'm treating with gin") or plainly declare ("I'm tired of just being a man"). Many poems look grief in the face, addressing a dying mother, an ex-lover, flowers and animals, an absent god, the disappointing self, even the 43rd president, with whom Cole admits to a degree of fellowship—a rare sentiment these days, especially in poems—a common fear of "some unbroken animal/ circling in the dark wood." There are a very few moments when the feeling drains, but mostly this intimate, honest voice surprises. Poetry "is stronger/ than I am and makes me do what it wants," Cole writes of the bullying that has produced his best book to date. (Apr.)

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