Andrea Cohen’s poems search the shadow regions of yearning and loss, with surprising, sometimes meteoric leaps. What we get in Unfathoming are poems that both interrogate mystery and make their allegiance with it.
“Lit,” from Unfathoming:
be a lamplighter.
be the lamp,
must, in bereaved
it is to be lit.
“The title of Andrea Cohen’s collection Unfathoming is brilliantly concise: these poems train their attention on the elusive, perhaps insoluble mysteries of the heart–feelings, behaviors, and stories which cannot be not reconciled in tidy narrative closures or snap-shut truths. Cohen’s dominant theme is the elusiveness of intimacy, but the intimacy to which we are repeatedly returned is that problematic one of the self with the self. I love the bafflement as well as the tough, intelligent persistence of the speaker in these interrogations. Terse, linguistically distilled, Cohen’s craft is meticulous, as with her flashlight she prowls and probes, reporting on the emotional transactions of our lives that can only partially be seen. The poetic results are fiercely distinctive and moving.”—Tony Hoagland
“Andrea Cohen’s poems have always been rigorously crafted and deft in their insight. Along comes Unfathoming, which marks a new depth in her work. While these poems are engaged in our ancient struggle to find meaning in the wake of loss, they also nod to the foolishness that makes finding meaning itself the struggle. Cohen refutes the idea that rescue comes via intellect alone. As the poems in Unfathoming demonstrate, any deliverance comes when loss, explored, makes its way toward wonder.”—Alice Sebold