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. —Rosanna Warren