POETRY

Blizzard

Farrar. Sept. 2020. 80p. ISBN 9780374114381. $24. poetry ;.
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In Rome Prize winner Cole’s tenth book (after Nothing To Declare), the best poems reach out to nearby objects as if the poet were using his eyes like a camera noticing the particulars of his environs while magically capturing the spirit that enlivens them. The epigraph suggests the spiritual undertones of the collection: “NOW DO U UNDERSTAND WHAT HEAVEN IS/ IT IS THE SURROUND OF THE LIVING.” With the line “memory of feeling is not feeling,” the title poem raises the notion of aloneness that permeates the entire collection. Generally, Cole takes two paths here. On one, he employs nature as a way to understand himself. On the other, he projects aspects of himself on to objects in nature. On both paths, these mostly sonnetlike poems use details to go in search of warmth—as found in relationships between people and between people and the natural world. Take one of Cole’s strongest poems, “Departure,” which alludes to Robert Frost’s poem, “Two Look at Two,” as it concerns a narrator who watches two deer who watch him. While Frost’s poem contains two people, Cole’s poem has one somewhat dispirited narrator. Cole ends not with the certainty of earth’s love (as in Frost) but with an injunction: “If tenderness approaches, run to it.”
VERDICT For large poetry collections.

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