A dazzling new book by a writer with "perhaps the most capacious command of the Jewish poetic tradition of any poet now writing in English"(Religion and Literature)Peter Cole has been called "an inspired writer" (The Nation) and “one of the handful of authentic poets of his own American generation” (Harold Bloom). In this, his fourth book of poems, he presents a ramifying vision of human linkage. At the heart of the collection stands the stunning title poem, which brings us into the world of Victor Tausk, a maverick and tragic early disciple of Freud who wrote about one of his patients’ mental inventions ― an "influence machine" that controlled his thoughts. In Cole’s symphonic poem, this machine becomes a haunting image for the ways in which tradition and the language of others shape so much of what we think and say. The shorter poems in this rich and surprising volume treat the dynamics of coupling, the curiously varied nature of perfection,the delights of the senses, the perils of poetic vocation, and more.
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Peter Cole’s previous books of poems include Things on Which I’ve Stumbled (New Directions). Among his volumes of translation are The Poetry of Kabbalah: Mystical Verse from the Jewish Tradition and The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492. Cole, who divides his time between Jerusalem and New Haven, was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2007.
Harold Bloom is Sterling Professor of the Humanities at Yale University. His many distinguished books include The Anxiety of Influence (1973, 1997), The Western Canon (1994), Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human (1998), and How to Read and Why (2000).
“Cole (The Poetry of the Kabbalah, 2012) is an esteemed and prolific translator, concentrating on Hebrew literature, notably poetry from medieval Spain, and the recipient of many honors, including a MacArthur “genius grant.” The Invention of Influence is his fourth collection, and it is masterful. Harold Bloom’s introduction―an imprimatur of quality if there ever was one―combines fulsome praise with careful and welcome exposition of some of the countless allusions in this deeply allusive, profound, committed verse. The long narrative title poem examines the life and work of Victor Tausk, an early disciple of Freud who committed suicide. The variety of verse forms, the attention to and respect for Tausk’s complex path, the pressure the poem contains and releases―it might be a masterpiece. Unsurprisingly, Cole seems concerned most often with translation, in all its possible permutations: from language to language, from idea into word, from the unspeakable into speech: “We’re not quite sons, he cautions, of God― / but might be children of the Word.””
- Michael Autrey, Booklist
“Cole is not a household name, but this MacArthur Fellow has had a long and impressive career as a poet. There is a quiet, streaming power in his work that leads the reader back to it over and over again.”
- The Bloomsbury Review
“Cole’s poetry is remarkable for its combination of intellectual rigor with delight in surface, for how its prosody returns each abstraction to the body, linking thought and breath, metaphysics and musicality. Religious, erotic, elegiac, pissed off ― the affective range is wide and the forms restless.”
- Ben Lerner
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