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
"[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,
and most complex volume, comes off as a more centered and sustained
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
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:
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
of the poem, which resembles a nervous system, a continuous vein of
and inside touch only when poetry attempts to sew the ocean to the
--Fred Muratori, American Book Review