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Throughout the pages of Porlock, Joseph Cooper brings lyricism and humanity into procedural poetry, and with a masterful touch. Awash in the phantoms and small pleasures of its original source texts, each poem is a jewel-like distillation of “a world where people believe it is a pleasure to be alive”—seamlessly constructed and redolent of the romantic, the sensual, and often, the uncertain. Porlock is a remarkable collection, self-referential and existential and, «The most beautiful wolf, always / the bastard epic, the imitation, and the constructed counterfeit,» all at once.
Nicole Steinberg, author of Getting Lucky (Spooky Girlfriend Press)
Porlock is a monument of smoke, a testament to all that is forgotten, and to all that which might remain of “a world where people believe it is a pleasure being alive”. Answering the late, dream-dispersing knock at the door with a welcoming flourish, and leaning into chaos, Joseph Cooper’s brilliant re-visioning of Coleridge’s famously interrupted, lost “Kubla Khan” pulls us into a dark weather system, opening the dream doors to “consent to the apparent legibility of things and their coherence in the mind.” It is a dedication to the will of one’s own creation that leads the poet on, to travel through folding fog of memory, and out of memory, testament to the stranger within our selves. That the stranger’s insistence to lead is an insistence to follow the unknown, to be pulled by the hand of fog down blind paths’ night-lined academies, toward brighter, darker matter, toward “all that is not burdened by all of us”.
Andrew K. Peterson, author of Anonymous Bouquet (Spuyten Duyvil)
While the title may reference Coleridge’s unwanted intruder who disrupts creativity, Joseph Cooper’s Porlock abounds with innovation and vision. The book reflects the constraints inherent in “Kubla Khan,” yet opens a world unto itself. A beautiful and haunting mélange of source text, Cooper creates poems that record “their own mute history.” Dear Reader: in these pages, you will find “the space between dead leaves” and “the beating heart.” That is, Cooper weaves notions of stillness and the last breath with the body and its deliberate existence. The language is both vibrant and quiet; it embeds collective sorrow while emanating joy. When verse so carefully crafted reaches beyond its limits, we find narrative threads that pulse, that give birth to hidden gifts. Porlock skims the “watery edge”—a current of dynamic poetics.
Michelle Naka Pierce, author of Continuous Frieze Bordering Red (Fordham)
Joseph Cooper is currently writing in Winston-Salem, NC and is the author of the full-length books Arias Let Into (Spuyten Duyvil 2014), Touch Me (BlazeVox 2009), and Autobiography of a Stutterer ( BlazeVox 2007).