poem index


Nicole Cooley

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Nicole Cooley. Photo credit: Victor Balaban.
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Nicole Cooley grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. She received her BA from Brown University, her MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and her PhD from Emory University.

Her first book of poetry, Resurrection (Louisiana State University Press, 1996), was chosen by Cynthia Macdonald to receive the 1995 Walt Whitman Award. Her second book of poetry, The Afflicted Girls (Louisiana State University Press, 2004), about the Salem witch trials of 1692, was chosen as one of the best poetry books of the year by Library Journal. She is also the author of the novel Judy Garland, Ginger Love (Regan Books/Harper Collins, 1998). Her third book of poetry is Breach (Louisiana State University Press, 2009), a collection of poems about Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Coast.

About Cooley, Cynthia Macdonald has said, "Nicole Cooley speaks in a voice unmistakably her own, a voice which need not demand attention because its quiet confidence is so compelling."

Her poems have appeared in many publications, including Poetry, Field, Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, and The Nation. She was awarded a "Discovery"/The Nation Award for her poetry in 1994, and in 1996 she received a fiction grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Cooley has taught at Bucknell University. She is currently an associate professor of English and creative writing at Queens College—City University of New York, where she directs the MFA program in creative writing and literary translation. She lives outside of New York City with her husband and two daughters.

Selected Bibliography

Of Marriage (forthcoming, Alice James Books, 2018)
Girl after Girl after Girl (LSU Press, 2017)
Milk Dress (Alice James Books, 2010)
Breach (Louisiana State University Press, 2009)
The Afflicted Girls (Louisiana State University Press, 2004)
Resurrection (Louisiana State University Press, 1996)

Judy Garland, Ginger Love (Regan Books/Harper Collins, 1998)

by this poet


Not the butterfly wing, the semiprecious stones,
          the shard of mirror,

not the cabinet of curiosities built with secret drawers
          to reveal and conceal its contents,

but the batture, the rope swing, the rusted barge
          sunk at the water’s edge

or the park’s

From the window the river rinses 
the dark. I twist 
the wedding beads around my neck. I’ve lost
my ring, silver and antique, bought from the night market
in the other world across
the ocean, color of dull lead,
color of the pan I scrub and burn
in the sink.


Catullus wrote, I hate and love, and he

Sudden blow   bundle of grain   a surprise   a heap of sheaves
          meaning trade

with the Dutch

A thick mass of your hair on the brush   in the pillow   in my

When an electric current passes through all or part of the body

How I wish