Henri Cole

Pierce the Skin: Selected Poems

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The New Republic
     June 16,2010
Poetically, Cole is the child of William Blake and Elizabeth Bishop... Pierce the Skin, a selection from Cole's six earlier books, confirms him as a poet of commanding maturity.  It is bracing to watch a writer find the right relationship between the subject matter urgent to him and a style that evolves to meet the needs of that subject.  In this dual process of discovery, Cole lets neither raw material nor style--nor stylization--dominate;  in poem after poem, the clashing forces fight to a draw, and that draw is the work of art.  Cole is now such a master of his means, and at the same time so modest and vulnerable in his recording...He brilliantly channels Marvell, Dickinson, and Stevens, and sounds perfectly like himself--the fictive self, the voice that holds its own amid squalor.      -- from "Making a Soul," Rosanna Warren