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The Invention of Influence [Paperback]

Peter Cole , Harold Bloom
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

January 29, 2014 0811221725 978-0811221726 1

A dazzling new book by a writer with "perhaps the most capacious command of the Jewish poetic tradition of any poet now writing in English"(Religion and Literature)

Peter Cole has been called "an inspired writer" (The Nation) and “one of the handful of authentic poets of his own American generation” (Harold Bloom). In this, his fourth book of poems, he presents a ramifying vision of human linkage. At the heart of the collection stands the stunning title poem, which brings us into the world of Victor Tausk, a maverick and tragic early disciple of Freud who wrote about one of his patients’ mental inventions — an "influence machine" that controlled his thoughts. In Cole’s symphonic poem, this machine becomes a haunting image for the ways in which tradition and the language of others shape so much of what we think and say. The shorter poems in this rich and surprising volume treat the dynamics of coupling, the curiously varied nature of perfection,the delights of the senses, the perils of poetic vocation, and more.

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The Invention of Influence + Things on Which I've Stumbled (New Directions Paperbook) + The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492 (Lockert Library of Poetry in Translation)
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Cole (The Poetry of the Kabbalah, 2012) is an esteemed and prolific translator, ­concentrating on Hebrew literature, notably poetry from medieval Spain, and the recipient of many honors, including a MacArthur “genius grant.” The Invention of Influence is his fourth collection, and it is masterful. Harold Bloom’s introduction—an imprimatur of quality if there ever was one—combines fulsome praise with careful and welcome exposition of some of the countless allusions in this deeply profound, committed verse. The long narrative title poem examines the life and work of Victor Tausk, an early disciple of Freud who committed suicide. The variety of verse forms, the attention to and respect for Tausk’s complex path, the pressure the poem contains and releases—it might be a masterpiece. Unsurprisingly, Cole seems concerned most often with translation, in all its possible permutations: from language to language, from idea into word, from the unspeakable into speech: “We’re not quite sons, he cautions, of God— / but might be children of the Word.” --Michael Autrey

Review

“Cole (The Poetry of the Kabbalah, 2012) is an esteemed and prolific translator, concentrating on Hebrew literature, notably poetry from medieval Spain, and the recipient of many honors, including a MacArthur “genius grant.” The Invention of Influence is his fourth collection, and it is masterful. Harold Bloom’s introduction—an imprimatur of quality if there ever was one—combines fulsome praise with careful and welcome exposition of some of the countless allusions in this deeply allusive, profound, committed verse. The long narrative title poem examines the life and work of Victor Tausk, an early disciple of Freud who committed suicide. The variety of verse forms, the attention to and respect for Tausk’s complex path, the pressure the poem contains and releases—it might be a masterpiece. Unsurprisingly, Cole seems concerned most often with translation, in all its possible permutations: from language to language, from idea into word, from the unspeakable into speech: “We’re not quite sons, he cautions, of God— / but might be children of the Word.”” (Michael Autrey - Booklist)

“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 his work that leads the reader back to it over and over again.” (The Bloomsbury Review)

“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)

Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; 1 edition (January 29, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811221725
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811221726
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #394,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding book February 23, 2014
By ABK
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Hard for me to recall the last time I read a book of poems in which each and every poem felt singular and essential. By singular, I mean that each poem has a take all its own on the luminously complex experience of being alive. And by essential, I mean necessary: for the collection-- its flow and meaning-- as well as for the reader lucky enough to experience these poems. Wise, and yet not so wise as to take itself too seriously, this is a book that grasps mysteries with the gentlest touch-- not to solve them but to look, and listen, more closely to them. And so, when Cole writes in his "Poets Notebook" (Poetry Magazine) that what has come to matter to him most is when poetry "spills over the banks of Art and into the Life of Anyone," I believe him. He's done it here.
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