4 Cover

paper • 80 pages • 13.95
ISBN-10: 1-884800-32-7

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Noelle Kocot

Winner of the 1999 Levis Poetry Prize
selected by Michael Ryan



Someone inside says, “Get busy.”
But I’ve got appointments to keep,
I have an abstemious love of equations calculated quickly
While the tepid day melts into design.

And the high cheekbones of the beautiful life
Bear the loose look of a calendar by lamplight.
I search for patterns in everything.
I am tied in knots of comprehension.

I think, how useful it might be
To pierce all the hands of the earth
With an oath of pins encircling snarling planets.
But talent and shallowness sewn together

Is nothing but a kerchief tied around a survivalist’s head,
And it helps to know the feet wriggling through a hole
In the universe will land for an instant
Upon the cushions of the dark,

And that after marching one doozy of a kilometer after another,
We each come upon the same poem scribbled in invisible ink
Taped to the door of a room
In which an austere justice is burning for us.

About the Author

  • "One problem for poets is always how to disrupt language enough to get beyond common sense without leaving it behind. Dickinson invented a grammar; Whitman, a rhetoric; Hopkins, a music. By disrupting language they enriched its articulation. It became larger because they used it in and as poetry. I do not believe this is true of the contemporary virtuoso writing 4 is rooted in–performative as opposed to devotional, self-conscious and disengaged, all those painterly surfaces and trick-mirror ironies–which makes me believe that 4 is even better than I think it is, and I think it’s extraordinary. It is also moving–not so much for its sentiments (although there are moving sentiments), but because of the pressure evident in this poet’s solution to that problem: what comes through the relentless semantic invention, syntactical bravura, and occasional laugh-out-loud humor is the emotional urgency that informs genuine rigor, and it’s this–the stakes involved in writing this well–that makes 4 as touching as Sappho at her most naked and plain. This book will demand your best attention, but will repay it, honorably, in the ancient coin." —Michael Ryan

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