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4 Cover

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

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4

Noelle Kocot

Winner of the 1999 Levis Poetry Prize
selected by Michael Ryan

 

WHILE WRITING

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

Also by Noelle Kocot