Vendor- Cole, Henri
Gravity and Center: Selected Sonnets, 1994-2022
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.
Hardcover, Apr 4th 2023