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Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988–2008

Norma Cole, Author . City Lights $14.95 (106p) ISBN 978-0-87286-474-0

For the inaugural volume in its new Spotlight series, a sequel to City Lights' famous Pocket Poets line (in which Ginsberg's Howl first appeared), the publisher has chosen this retrospective collection by San Francisco poet Cole. A disciple of Robert Duncan, Cole casts her short poems in jagged verse and prose blocks, by turns abstract (“Imaginations law hits frames”), surreal (“Bark grew up over their faces”) and painterly in a manner that will be familiar to fans of Barbara Guest: “This is the image of effort.” Other pieces work more like disjunctive fables: one such prose poem describes how “A little of life simply escapes from a shallow dish.” Cole is far better known on the West Coast and in experimental poetry circles than anywhere else; in fact, her work is surprisingly accessible given its avant garde origins and ambitions—beautiful phrases and lines leap off the page (“Then his/ signature will have taken place,” reads one poem)—and this concise gathering of poems from her 15 small press books should bring Cole much deserved attention. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/15/2009
Release date: 05/01/2009
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