Things on Which I've Stumbled

Overview

Remarkable poetry by the widely acclaimed poet and translator of Hebrew and Arabic poetry.
In Peter Cole's remarkable new book, the forces and sources that have long driven his work come together in singular fashion. Things on Which I've Stumbled rides a variable music that takes it from an archeology of mysterious poetic fragments unearthed in an ancient Egyptian synagogue to poignant political commentary on the blighted hills surrounding modern Jerusalem. Cole's vision of ...

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Overview

Remarkable poetry by the widely acclaimed poet and translator of Hebrew and Arabic poetry.
In Peter Cole's remarkable new book, the forces and sources that have long driven his work come together in singular fashion. Things on Which I've Stumbled rides a variable music that takes it from an archeology of mysterious poetic fragments unearthed in an ancient Egyptian synagogue to poignant political commentary on the blighted hills surrounding modern Jerusalem. Cole's vision of connectedness, his wit, and his grounded wisdom, along with his keen sense of literature's place in a meaningful life, render these poems at once fresh and abiding. Widely acclaimed for his translations from Hebrew and Arabic, Cole is also the author of two highly praised collections of poems. Writing in The New York Review of Books, Harold Bloom called Peter Cole "a major poet-translator." In Things on Which I've Stumbled, he turns to translating the world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Peter Cole is a true maker. His extraordinary learning is deep and personal, and his poems, like his translations, are powered by a large spiritual quest to link and light the world with words. He stands with amazement before great mysteries. (Edward Hirsch, author of How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry)”

“The keenness of his mind and the moral seriousness of his work astonish....The exquisite specificity of his diction and the intricacy of his prosody are without parallel among the poets of his—and my—generation. (Forrest Gander, author of As a Friend)”

“Underlying much of his work is a wry sense of humor which peeks through… his own reliance on Kabbalistic allusions. (Jewish Book World)”

“A major new book. Readers searching for wholly modern poetry dealing with spiritual issues, grounded in history, and presented with great craft will find it in Cole’s new book. (ForeWord, James DenBoer)”

“A major poet-translator. (Harold Bloom)”

“[Cole’s] poetry is ... remarkable for its combination of intellectual rigor with delight in surface, for how its prosody returns each abstraction to the body, linking thought and breath, metaphysics and musicality. Religious, erotic, elegiac, pissed off—the affective range is wide and the forms restless. (Ben Lerner, Bomb Magazine)”

“Erudite, politically charged, and often dazzling…. [Cole is] an unusual and courageous contemporary poet. (Philip Metres, Gently Read Literature)”

“Prosodic mastery fuses with a keen moral intelligence in this collection…. In his unabashed search for wisdom and beauty—notions many poets today find fatuous or at least too subjective to handle—Cole fearlessly manipulates sonic and semantic patterns…. Working from ancient sources, he has enacted Pound’s dictum to ‘Make it new.’ (American Poet)”

“[Cole’s] blend of formalism, Hebraicism, poetic midrash, and Modernist collage is marvelous. (Poetry Magazine)”

“Terrifically impressive. Plainspoken wit [mixes with] gestures towards traditional form, a questioning but always humble mysticism, drawing as much on Muslim as Jewish sources. Brilliant and haunting. (Mark Scroggins, Culture Industry)”

“Peter Cole is not a household name, but this MacArthur Fellow has had a long and impressive career as a poet…. There is a quiet, streaming power in Cole’s work that leads the reader back to it over and over again. (Bloomsbury Review)”

Publishers Weekly

Cole (The Dream of the Poem) must be one of very few writers to achieve enduring fame as a translator. He lives in Jerusalem and writes his own poems in English, and this first book of his verse in 10 years looks at the long, international history of Jewish literature, the modern enterprise of translation, the troubled contexts of his Middle East, as well as marital love and "the making of miracles such as forgiveness,/ friendship souring inside aloneness,// delight which leaves one exalted." His self-scrutiny is identified with Jewish tradition: "Where are you, calls the Lord, from beyond/ language." He is outraged at what the state of Israel has become, a state whose army says to Palestinians, in the words of one poem, "You'll now need a permit just to stay home." Cole's grave intellection gives this book its best moments and-when his abstractions fail to catch fire-its weakest. Though it utilizes a number of poetic forms, the collection truly shines when Cole chooses the short-lined, sometimes fragmentlike free verse that links him to another poet of terse moral seriousness, George Oppen; admirers of Oppen-and anyone with any interest in Cole's topics-will cherish much of this admirable book. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811218030
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 9/30/2008
  • Series: New Directions Paperbook
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Cole’s previous books of poems include Things on Which I’ve Stumbled (New Directions). Among his volumes of translation are The Poetry of Kabbalah: Mystical Verse from the Jewish Tradition and The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492. Cole, who divides his time between Jerusalem and New Haven, was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2007.

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Table of Contents

Improvisation on Lines by Isaac the Blind 3

Things on Which I've Stumbled 7

And So the Skin... 30

Notes on Bewilderment 33

The Ghazal of What He Sees 45

Palestine: A Sestina 46

Coexistence: A Lost and Almost Found Poem 48

Israel Is 50

Proverbial Drawing

I How Far 51

II A Right Angle Supports Us Here 52

III The Line 53

IV It's True 54

V The House The Cloud 55

VI The Wrong Angle Righted 56

(Valent) Lines for A. 57

Sufi Abstracts 58

Why Does the World Out There Seem 59

The Meaning Of 62

Lines for a Slim Collected Poems 65

From The Necessity of What Isn't Necessary 66

Homage to Agnes 67

The Rain 68

Something More 69

What Has Been Prepared

I "The eye, it seems" 73

(Sounds of rain) 76

II What Does Always Mean 77

(Always an eye for the morsel) 79

III What Intimation Is There 80

(Making the empty) 82

IV What Then Is Appeased 83

(Bordering being) 85

V What Is It That Gives Rise 86

(Radiant morning funneling blue) 88

VI What Is Meant by Being 89

(Out with only) 91

The Ghazal of What Hurt 95

Notes 97

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