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The Visible Man: Poems Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 67 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (October 20, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375403965
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375403965
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,327,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Cole (The Look of Things, LJ 2/1/95) has contributed much to contemporary poetry, not just as a poet but as a Harvard lecturer and as the former executive director of the Academy of American Poets. This fourth collection tarnishes that reputation. The problems begin with the title, which brings implications of revelation and epiphany. Unfortunately, the "visible man," or the visible speaker, is obfuscated by underdeveloped allusions, dense diction, and weak images. The style and form of the poems echo those of J.D. McClatchy's latest book, The Ten Commandments, compared with which Cole's efforts pale. Still influenced by the title, the reader expects the speaker to emerge vividly with some proclamation. Hints of such a declaration are strewn throughout: "I want! I want I kept hearing in my head,/ without understanding how I was governed/ by the thing Id hated. Im just like you,/ he moaned." However, these half-committed proclamations fall short each time the speaker shifts to a religious allusion. Perhaps this shift is the construct of the speaker's internal conflict; it is unclear. The 12-part poem "Apollo" alone demonstrates the brilliance of Cole's earlier books. Sadly, the volume cannot stand solely on this one poem. Not recommended.ATim Gavin, Episcopal Acad., Merion, PA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

26 Hands
Adam Dying
Anagram
Apollo: 1
Apollo: 10
Apollo: 11
Apollo: 12
Apollo: 13
Apollo: 14
Apollo: 2
Apollo: 3
Apollo: 4
Apollo: 5
Apollo: 6
Apollo: 7
Apollo: 8
Apollo: 9
Arte Povera
Bearded Irises
The Black Jacket
Black Mane
The Blue Grotto
Charity
Chiffon Morning
Childlessness
The Coastguard Station
Colloquy
The Color Of Feeling And The Feeling Of Color
Etna
Folly
Giallo Antico
Horses
Jealousy
The Long View
Mesmerism
Painted Eyes
Poenies
Self-portrait As Four Styles Of Pompeian Wall Painting
The Suicide Hours
To A Prince
The White Marriages
White Spine
-- Table of Poems from Poem Finder®

Relentless, densely layered, and scrupulously fashioned, Henri Cole's The Visible Man is among the best definitions of what it means, psychically, to be a gay man at the end of the 20th century.---Jason Roush -- Bay Windows, November 11, 1999

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Judy Lightfoot on July 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
[This book brief appeared March 11, 1999, in Seattle's "The Stranger" and can be found online at [...]
Cole does to the sonnet what postmodern consciousness does to the self--he wrenches it, shatters it, sucks it dry, turns it inside out, and sometimes, for a moment, holds it in a quiet embrace. The central problem of his book is knowledge, which made Apollo a god but divides us from ourselves. Cole seeks to unite body and mind in a self through Arte Povera poems - rough, impromptu works "in motion, / stroking toward what [he] cannot see" ('Apollo'). But the self proves to be neither a temple for the spirit nor a sturdy Greek column, and Cole becomes a tourist and connoisseur of his own disintegration -- he is marble rubble, broken stanzas, stray glimpses of porn flicks, bouts of loveless fellatio under the pier. The poet is a Visible Man in what he calls an "erotic x-ray of my soul" ('Self-Portrait as Four Styles of Pompeian Wall Painting').
Though Cole refuses to flatter us with sweetness, he can be very funny, mingling exquisitely precise imagery with comic observation. Ancient crumbling statues resemble "bodies sinking in quicksand," but "a luckless prick / is frozen in the stucco." Scholars "eat big bowls of pasta / and drain their preposterous bowels" ('The Scholars'). Many passages are marvelous - history has "white teeth / jammed with gristle" ('The Black Jacket'); forgiveness is "so hard to swallow it unshackles us" ('26 Hands'); a house is "illuminated all night, / like the unconscious, though no one enters" ('The Coastguard Station').
Cole is determined "To write what is human, not escapist.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Henri Cole has long been seen as a fussy apprentice to James Merrill and Elizabeth Bishop, but this has always been an issue easily overlooked because of the vigor with which Cole has often written about his subjects. With this, his fourth book, Cole has not rejected the fastidiousness of Bishop or the sly elegance of Merrill, he has corrupted these things and, by so doing, created a harrowing, desperate, powerful poetry. In many of these poems, the complications may seem less than subtle until one realizes the focus of angst is only one of the many complications in each poem. Christianity, its pagan predecessors, modern Law, Homosexuality and its place in these constructs--all of these issues are present but secondary to the voice of speaker whose anguish to understand is the anguish of self-blame and self-deception. A brilliant and haunting book of poems.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book of poems after hearing a few friends talk about it and then reading all the good customer reviews here at Amazon. I have to say it really is an amazing book, and it really is one of the best books of poetry I have read in years. The poems are so sharp and so well-written and so harsh. He is our contemporary Robert Lowell. Anyone who likes poetry should take a look at this book.
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By A Customer on February 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
So many "gay" poets write tired, boring, clichéd poems about gay experience. What a surprise to find a poet who can tackle gay issues without dumbing down the poems. Some wrenching, harsh, stunning poems here. Every reader, gay or straight, have experienced some of the emotions that guide the speaker of these poems. Unlike the majority of contemporary poetry, these poems have something to say and actually "says" it well. No boring academic tricks to wade through. After reading it, I can see why there is so much buzz about this book.
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