December 15, 1997 92nd St. Y, Unterberg Poetry Center From the Academy Audio Archive

About this poet

Jane Cooper was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on October 9, 1924. She spent her early childhood in Jacksonville, Florida and then moved with her family to Princeton in the mid-1930s. She attended Vassar College from 1942 to 1944, and earned a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin in 1946. She received her Master's from the University of Iowa in 1954 where she studied with Robert Lowell and John Berryman.

She is the author of five books of poetry: Flashboat: Poems Collected and Reclaimed (W. W. Norton & Company, 1999); Green Notebook, Winter Road (1994), which was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Scaffolding: Selected Poems (1993); Maps and Windows (1974); and The Weather of Six Mornings (1969), which was the Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets.

About her collected poems in The Flashboat, Mark Doty has written: "To perform the alchemical work of translating a human presence into paper and ink: that is the deam of the book, a dream fulfilled her, in this beautifully assembled life's work. Jane Cooper has been engaged in a long patient act of making a consideration of self-in-the-world vigorous, humble, and fierce all at once."

She also co-edited The Sanity of Earth and Grass: Complete Poems of Robert Winner (1994) and Extended Outlooks: The Iowa Review Collection of Contemporary Women Writers (1982).

She has received an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Shelley Memorial Award, and fellowships from the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Cooper joined the faculty of Sarah Lawrence College in 1950, and remained as a teacher and poet in residence until her retirement in 1987. She held the post of New York State Poet from 1995 to 1997. She died on October 26, 2007 of complications due to Parkinson's Disease.


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From the Image Archive

 

Rent

Jane Cooper, 1924 - 2007
If you want my apartment, sleep in it
but let's have a clear understanding:
the books are still free agents.

If the rocking chair's arms surround you
they can also let you go,
they can shape the air like a body.

I don't want your rent, I want
a radiance of attention
like the candle's flame when we eat,

I mean a kind of awe
attending the spaces between us---
Not a roof but a field of stars.

From Scaffolding: Selected Poems by Jane Cooper, published by Tilbury House, Publishers. Copyright © 1993 Jane Cooper. Used with permission.

From Scaffolding: Selected Poems by Jane Cooper, published by Tilbury House, Publishers. Copyright © 1993 Jane Cooper. Used with permission.

Jane Cooper

Jane Cooper

Jane Cooper was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1924. She