Gravity and Center: Selected Sonnets, 1994-2022
Henri Cole (Author)
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New and selected sonnets from Henri Cole, a poet with "a quality of daring that is rare in our poetry" (Louise Glück).I take joy in considering my generation. I rewrite
to be read, though I feel shame acknowledging it.
Scattered among imposing trees, the ancient
and the modern intersect, spreading germs of pain
and happiness. I curl up in my fleece and drink. Gravity and Center collects almost thirty years of deeply original work by one of America's greatest living poets. As his writing has grown and changed, Henri Cole has conceived and articulated an approach of his own to one of poetry's most enduring and challenging forms: the sonnet. Cole writes in his afterword, "I believe a poem is a sonnet if it behaves like one, and this doesn't mean rhyming iambic pentameter lines. More important is the psychological dimension, the little fractures and leaps and resolutions the poem enacts . . . For some reason the lean, muscular body of the sonnet frees me to be simultaneously dignified and bold, to appear somewhat socialized though what I have to say may be eccentric or unethical, and, most important of all, to have aesthetic power while writing about the tragic situation of the individual in the world." Cole is both confessional and abstract, intimate and cosmopolitan, astringent and slain by beauty. Whether he is writing about the contingencies of selfhood, the lives of animals and plants, or the violent events of the world, there is always the incandescence of his language and the power and surprise of unique formal mastery.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
April 04, 2023
5.4 X 8.3 X 1.0 inches | 0.83 pounds
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About the Author
Henri Cole was born in Fukuoka, Japan, to a French mother and an American father. He has published ten previous collections of poetry and received many awards, including the Jackson Prize, the Kingsley Tufts Award, the Rome Prize, the Berlin Prize, the Lenore Marshall Award, and the Award of Merit Medal in Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has also published Orphic Paris, a memoir. He lives in Boston and teaches at Claremont McKenna College.
"These sonnets embody all the best qualities of this poet's enviable economy of language, evocative imagery, wicked turns of phrase, and sheer lyrical genius . . . That Cole manages to range the wide spectrum of human experience within the 14 lines of the sonnet is testament both to the poet's craft and the form itself." --Diego Báez, Booklist (Starred Review)