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About this poet

Norma Cole was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1945. She received a BA in 1966 and an MA in French language and literature in 1968, both from the University of Toronto.

Cole is the author of numerous poetry collections, including Fate News (Omnidawn, 2018), Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988–2008 (City Lights, 2009), Spinoza in Her Youth (Omnidawn, 2002), and Metamorphopsia (Potes & Poets Press, 1988). Of her work, Robert Creeley writes, “She is a poet of consummate intelligence, a deft and compassionate company.”

Cole is also the author of TO BE AT MUSIC: Essays & Talks (Omnidawn, 2010), and her translations from the French include Jean Daive’s White Decimal (Omnidawn, 2016). In 2006 she was the lead artist for Collective Memory, a project commissioned by the California Historical Society.

Cole has received awards from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Fund for Poetry, and the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, among others. She has taught at San Francisco State University, the University of San Francisco, and Otis College. Cole lives in San Francisco, California.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry
Fate News (Omnidawn, 2018)
Actualities (Litmus Press, 2015)
Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988–2008 (City Lights, 2009)
Spinoza in Her Youth (Omnidawn, 2002)
Contrafact (Potes & Poets Press, 1996)
Mars (Listening Chamber, 1994)
Metamorphopsia (Potes & Poets Press, 1988)

Prose
TO BE AT MUSIC: Essays & Talks (Omnidawn, 2010)

We Address

…a lead pencil held between thumb and forefinger
     of each hand forms a bridge upon which
     two struggling figures, "blood all around"…

I was born in a city between colored wrappers

I was born in a city the color of steam, between two pillars, between pillars and curtains, it was up to me to pull the splinters out of the child's feet

I want to wake up and see you sea green and leaf green, the problem of ripeness. On Monday I wrote it out, grayed out. In that case spirit was terminology

In that case meant all we could do. Very slowly, brighter, difficult and darker. Very bright and slowly. Quietly lions or tigers on a black ground, here the sea is ice, wine is ice

I am in your state now. They compared white with red. So they hung the numbers and colors from upthrusting branches. The problem was light

Our friend arrived unexpectedly dressed in black and taller than we remembered. In the same sky ribbons and scales of bright balance

The problem and its history. Today a rose-colored sky. Greens vary from yellow to brown. Brighter than ink, the supposition tells the omission of an entire color

Which didn't have a musical equivalent. In those days the earth was blue, something to play. A person yearned to be stone

Clearly a lion or sphinx-like shape. The repetition of gesture is reiterated in the movement of ambient light on the windows, curtains, and on the facing wall, the problem

and its green ribbons. The hands almost always meet. Turquoise adrenaline illusions adjacent to memory, to mind. We address

memory, the senses, or pages on a double sheet, classical frontal framing. I want you to wake up now

From Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988-2008 by Norma Cole. Copyright © 2009 by Norma Cole. Used by permission of City Lights Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

From Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988-2008 by Norma Cole. Copyright © 2009 by Norma Cole. Used by permission of City Lights Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Norma Cole

Norma Cole is the author of numerous poetry collections, including Fate News (Omnidawn, 2018). She lives in San Francisco, California.

by this poet

poem

Saturation—the world is
its own music in awe and

space and not flat these
dynamics of rising

horizon remember the narrow
loom’s scale, perspectival

innuendo’s subtle registration
of touch, we listen, eye

in the hand, mind
in the eye of the hand

poem

There will be
time
then
there will be
song

for the paintings
say
stay

poem

                 Any further controversy would figure, figure hummingbirds in
Manhattan then Charlie Parker
                                synapsoids
beyond function when eyeless eyes are smiling watching you in my sleep
Should we