In the Unwalled City

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Product Details
$15.00  $13.95
Slant Books
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.5 X 0.28 inches | 0.35 pounds

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About the Author
Robert Cording taught English and creative writing at College of the Holy Cross for thirty-eight years and then worked as a poetry mentor in the Seattle Pacific University MFA program. He has published nine collections of poems, the latest of which is Without My Asking, and a volume of prose on poetry and religion, Finding the World's Fullness. He has been awarded two NEA fellowships in poetry, a Pushcart Prize, and has had work in numerous anthologies, including Poets of the New Century, The Best American Spiritual Writing, The Poetry Anthology, and The Best American Poetry.

"Over a long and rich career, Robert Cording-indifferent to and transcendent of any vogue-has persisted in addressing what I can only and inadequately label matters of the spirit. He'd surely be the last earthly soul to celebrate the death of a beloved son, "who is both not here, and not not here," as occasion for his most powerful work to date. And yet it is that. And it is spiritual. To read In the Unwalled City is to have our hearts broken, poem after poem, even as we celebrate the deeper-than-deep humanity of its testimony. I'm simply aware of no recent poetry that matches it for mournful eloquence.

-Sydney Lea, author of Here, former Poet Laureate of Vermont

In a grieving father's voice, both vulnerable and steeled, the poet writes, "My son is dead and done with me." He talks to himself through hybrid prose and poetry and to himself while talking to his son and, almost as afterthought, to us. He avails himself (and his off-camera readers) of centuries of wisdom, but, mercifully, offers us no moral summas gleaned from his devastating experience. Cording's bracing metaphors and sudden shifts of perspective distinguish In the Walled City from many memoirs of grief and loss. We come to poetry for just this: intimacy and awakening.

-Martha Serpas, author of Double Effect

Throughout Robert Cording's In the Unwalled City, one is immersed in the essence of duality-first, in a mingling of memoir and lyric-where language itself is an incantatory talisman against incredible loss yet unable to offer lasting solace. The title essay and collection of linked poems concerning the poet's late son impart a gorgeous grief which simultaneously embraces remembrance while also seeking some means of forgetfulness at "an altar where all rationality had to be sacrificed."

-Claude Wilkinson, author of World Without End

Every loss is particular; each bereavement has its own indigenous flavor. In this book of prose memoir and poetry, Robert Cording offers us an especially open and personal chronicle of grieving, generous in its detail, unsparing in its honest accounting of his own helplessness and "not-knowing." Grief is work in the dark, and it allows for no easy or even orthodox comfort. Because Cording accepts his new and stark vulnerability, the intimacy of the poems deepens as he labors to remain conversant with his son and not lose his "fatherhood." By remaining present to what is no longer present, over time the grieving father uncovers gifts of mercy and gratitude. And if Cording captures, over and over, how the ordinary and daily can be harrowing in its impact, In the Unwalled City is essentially a gentle, probing book-an uneasy elegy, a tribute to abiding love.

-Margaret Gibson, author of The Glass Globe, Poet Laureate of Connecticut

Robert Cording's heartbreaking book, In the Unwalled City, explores a terrible loss-the death of his son Daniel from an accidental overdose of opioids-with uncommon tenderness and grace. "Lord, grant me this fatherhood of pain," he writes, "do not let grief be finished with me, // if only because it gives birth to my dead son, / who is both not here, and not not here." He gazes steadily into this void, discovering not only a language for his grief but the saving power of love, which shines forth on every page. This is a book for the ages.

-Christopher Merrill, author of Self-Portrait with Dogwood