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City Lights Spotlight #01: Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988-2008by Norma Cole
Synopses & Reviews
The inaugural volume in the new Spotlight poetry series, Where Shadows Will selects from twenty years of innovative poetry by writer, painter, and translator Norma Cole. Cole has been a fixture of the Bay Area scene since 1977, writing melodic and experimental poetry whose shadow-haunted landscapes embody an exploration of the relationship between language, self, and world. Cole was a member of the circle of poets around Robert Duncan and a fellow traveler of the language poets. Drawing on long out-of-print volumes and recent books—such as her acclaimed Spinoza in Her Youth (2002)—Where Shadows Will confirms Cole’s place as a major avant-garde poet and a leading voice among contemporary women writers.
"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)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"For me, a fluid lyricism is the glue in these ever-morphing, syntactically scintillating fountains: 'all clipped together the fog cool dogeared it spotted with sparkles of light its heels.' . . . We are freed from narrative and delivered to the telling where 'something blinked back.' The work is heroic an 'epic without story.' Above all, 'the poem is a toy' and Cole, an ideal playmate. Abandon despair all ye who enter here. 'Verily, kiddo.'" - Jeffrey Cyphers Wright, The Brooklyn Rail
"Some poets have a wide library of works, and you'll miss the brightest gems unless you look really closely. Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988-2008 takes the best of Norma Cole's work from over twenty years, and places it all in one collection as part of City Lights' Spotlight series. An excellent collection to start the series with, Where Shadows Will is a poetry reader's delight." - James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review
"Cole's verse ranges vastly in form and subject, with a large selection of prose poems. Her dialogue with contemporary French poetry is especially evident . . . Even with a half-hearted listen, it’s easy to tell that Cole’s poetry is different. Where Shadows Will offers only the beginning of an introduction, a whetting of the palate." - Molossus
"Compatriot of a whole generation of French poets whose names are legion--Roubard, Hocquard, Claude-Royet, Collobert--Norma Cole is one of contemporary poetry's quintessential radicals; such a thing is thought beyond these shores. That her new book, Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988-2008 (City Lights books, 2009), confirms this beyond doubt. It seems a document of the intense skirmishes at the beginning of time, when tone was utterly impersonal, maximally capacious....Always political (seldom yet knowingly politicized, as in "'I Saw Shells...'") in its refusal to yield to the demands of a more strident poetics, her work is of a paradoxically pleasant and thoroughgoing antinomian difficulty. It hasn't given up on any ground gained." -David Lau, Lana Turner
"Shadows demonstrates the continuity of [Cole's] efforts from poem to poem, book to book, year to year. . . [The collection] crystallizes questions from throughout Cole's career: to what extent is personal experience shared or universal, and what, exactly, is our 'backyard,' anyway? Ancient Egypt? The modern-day Congo? The entire solar system?" — Chris McCreary, Poetry Project Newsletter
First volume of new series, City Lights Spotlight: selected poems by a major avant-garde woman poet.
Poetry. The first installment of our new Spotlight poetry series, WHERE SHADOWS WILL selects from twenty years of innovative writing by Bay Area poet, translator, and visual artist Norma Cole. Beginning with her earliest collection, Mace Hill Remap, and taking us up through her recent NATURAL LIGHT, WHERE SHADOWS WILL is a comprehensive overview of Cole's melodic and experimental poetry, whose shadow-haunted landscapes embody a theory-informed exploration of the relationship between language, self, and world. By turns severe and exuberant, WHERE SHADOWS WILL confirms Cole's place as a major avant-garde poet and a leading voice among contemporary innovative women writers.
About the Author
Norma Cole (born May 12, 1945) is a contemporary American poet, visual artist, and frequent translator from the French. She received her M.A. in French Language and Literature from the University of Toronto. A Canadian by birth, Norma Cole migrated via France to San Francisco where she has lived since 1977. For nearly twenty years, Norma Cole's work has received great acclaim for her: "openness to traditions and practices, artists and writings, radically divergent from her own". Recently, she collaborated with The Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives at SFSU in honor of their fiftieth anniversary. There she helped to create a site-specific gallery installation titled Collective Memory which opened on December 11, 2004 and ran through April 16, 2005. The project was described as: Among other awards, she is the recipient of the Gerbode Poetry Prize and a grant from the Fund for Poetry. In 2006 she was awarded a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award. "The Poetics of Vertigo"--delivered as the 1998 "George Oppen Memorial Lecture"---won the Robert D. Richardson NonFiction Award. With Boston photographer Ben E. Watkins she won the Purchase Award for the photo/text collaboration, "They Flatter Almost Recognize".
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