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Cole Swensen

poems, 80 pages, offset, smyth-sewn
ISBN 1-886224-01-3, paper, signed, $20

This collection explores the space between number and numen, between science/ mathematics on the one hand and transcendence on the other. It plays with line and directionality. There are vertical poems whose sparseness forms a dividing line between the unseen spaces on either side. And there are poems in a horizontal, more linear and fluid manner, reflecting qualities of landscape and of extensive space in general. Linking it all: a progressive paring away that heads toward, though of course can never arrive at, the 'numen' of the title.

Born in Northern California in 1955, Cole Swensen is now teaching at the University of Denver.

"[S's] work has grown into a larger vision: no longer the separate gems of wonder, her poems are as though broken open, grouped into clusters.... Numen, Swensen's sixth and most complex volume, comes off as a more centered and sustained enterprise, the book as an obliquely orchestrated whole. Poetry is an act of discovery for Swensen, and her voice is marked by a constant sense of the marvelous. There is a listening, an attention to the interstices of everyday life, to the glow of existence."

--Jason Weiss, Voice Literary Supplement

"Numen is a haunted work, an investigation of fragility... an effort of approach a realm beyond appearance, to gauge the weight of things.... Swensen's vision apprehends what is in the end a beautiful, even though solitary, world."

-Marc Lowenthal, The Boston Book Review

"Her poetry is like Dickinson without the syncopation, but with something of Traherne's sublime orderliness: numinous, in fact."
--John Ashbery, The Times Literary Supplement

"surveys the imaginable territory between unresolvable contradictions: multiplicity vs. unity, the self's need for salvation attainable only though the loss of self, the impossibility of locality in a world filled with 'Things meant/ to be seen from a distance.' Swensen's use of recurring images and actions creates a holographic effect, a sense of sculpted dimensionality... breathing with the world happens through the articulation of the poem, which resembles a nervous system, a continuous vein of energy... outside and inside touch only when poetry attempts to sew the ocean to the heart."

--Fred Muratori, American Book Review