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The Rise and Fall of the Mind

4.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1425933005
ISBN-10: 1425933009
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About the Author

Michael Cook grew up in New York City. He attended Northwestern University where he studied theatre and film. After a brief stint movie-making in Hollywood he came back to New York, and turned to the study of mathematics. After receiving his doctorate, he studied philosophy and theology for a year at seminary before going to Rockefeller University to do post-doctoral research. He has co-authored four musicals, two of which have been produced: Le Shotgun Marriage (in summer stock) and The Lysistrata Affair (in an Equity Showcase). He works on Wall Street in New York City, where he lives with his wife and best friend, Melissa.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 104 pages
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse (June 29, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1425933009
  • ISBN-13: 978-1425933005
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,342,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Susan Baronoff on September 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book of clever, well-crafted poems includes many which are genuinely affecting, and some that are delicious. These meditations on human consciousness - which most of the poems are - reveal a joyful appreciation for the architecture of thought, and the quest to find a similar blueprint for the heart.

Infinity in the human mind

Why do we find it there?

The emptiness in the human heart

is just too much to bear.

The ideas revealed in these poems are often vaulting and elegant. The feelings, on the other hand, reach up to those ideas as if they were trying to hitch a ride. There's longing and hope in those upward-reaching feelings, and it is these that make this book sweet and touching and achingly human.

I fascinate myself with clouds,

rocks, streams, oceans, stars...

I hear the music of the spheres...

and hum a few bars.

In poems of doubt and faith and joy and despondency, poems of seeking and poems of finding, Rise and Fall of the Mind traverses the path of aspiration. It's witty and well-written, full of ideas and unexpected delights.

It takes time

To notice I'm.

writes the poet. Take the time -- it's worth it!
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Format: Paperback
When I first opened this poetry collection, I was struck by its pithiness and diversity of forms - everything from haiku to villanelle goes into the mix of this charming verse. The poems have deceptively lively surfaces hiding intriguing concepts. As if to disarm the reader, the collection opens with a series of haiku, but haiku with an existential twist, as in "Ode to the Universe, Part 1":

I feel leafy,

part of a tree

whose trunk

I cannot see.

By the time I reached the poem "I Wake Up Insane," an ode to the constant tap dance of mind and heart, I realized I had been swimming in deep waters. In that poem Cook elegantly recreates the "ands" and "ors" of logic, the little mental tricks that get us through the day, masks put on over a deep longing. It's a witty piece of commentary, as are many poems in this book. Cook opts with graceful economy for the voice of the heart, whether in pithy laments like "Out of Control" or in unabashedly mystical poems like the luminous "I Am One." These are poems whose trick is to appear as light verse, when in fact, they're really Light verse. It's a book to buy for yourself and give to others.
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Format: Paperback
Michael Cook's first volume of verse is sheer delight--witty, epigramatic, insightful, funny, touching. These are the captured thoughts of a profound thinker with a light touch--always hopeful, always awed and entranced by the universe and our own human place in it. Read these poems for inspiration. Read them to change your mind. Read them to wake up.
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Format: Paperback
This is poetry that made me want to write poetry in response. Like the title, each poem is a wave that rolls in and many called me out like an undertow. Without much trying I was drawn to write a response to many of these waves, repartee with the simplicity and wit of poems like `Time' and `City Street'.

Time
it takes time
to notice I'm

For only in the present
does I not exist.

City Street
Everywhere I look
I see my shattered nature
reflected in the panes

Transparent forms
colors, angles,
I see right through them all.

But some waves come in, swirl and defy the rules. In `Dad's Birthday Party' I was caught by surprise at how innocence can defy censure. And then, was it I who added a touch of sarcasm in retrospect, looking back with innocence lost?

Dad's birthday party
I remember my Mom
telling me that Dad was brilliant,
I was proud of Dad, in that moment,
It didn't matter anymore that he was late
for his own birthday party.
The cake was ready, with "33" spelled out
in unlit candles.
I was ready, and Mom had the matches
all ready.
Dad was always late, but now
I understood the reason why.
He was a brilliant guy,
and didn't need birthday cake,
in order to accomplish his mission.

In `The Walk' we are amused by Cook's observations of a woman changing her rules for intimacy as they walk around a town filled with neighbors and friends who just might be watching. In `Finality' we catch the anger at one who accepts no help "falling into fossil form,/ horizons narrowing,/ reality a threat,/ drowning in the quicksand / of your own myths,/ oblivious to all our outstretched hands.
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