2004 National Book Award Finalist: Poetry

Cole Swensen

Goest, Cole Swensen Cole Swensen


About the Book

Meditations on the alchemical properties of light within history, art, and the human experience.

Author Biography

Cole Swensen’s ninth collection of poetry, Goest, was published in spring of 2004 by Alice James Books. Earlier works have been awarded a National Poetry Series selection, Sun & Moon’s New American Writing Award, the Iowa Poetry Prize, the San Francisco State Poetry Center Book Award, and a Pushcart Prize. Her next collection, The Book of a Hundred Hands, will be published by University of Iowa Press in 2005. She also translates contemporary French fiction, art criticism, and poetry; recent books include Olivier Cadiot’s Future, Former, Fugitive, Pierre Alferi’s OXO, and Jean Frémon’s The Island of the Dead, which won the 2004 PEN USA Literary Award for Translation. She has received grants from the Association Beaumarchais and the French Bureau du Livre.

Poems from Goest

from Five Landscapes

This is an outline for a project on the relationship between landscape and time,
the latter turning physical, equivocal, equal. I'm on a train.
The whole window and speed, vertile, vertige. It will be

an expository piece and not an evocation. Look down there

in the field, a hundred people, a festival, a lake, a summer, a hundred
thousand fields, all your versions, a woman places her hand
on the small of a man's back in the middle of the crowd and leaves it.

A wedding in a field-the old saying: it's good luck to be seen
from a train dressed in white, you must be looking the other way, so many things work
only if you're looking away. A woman in a field is walking away.
Gardens early in the evening. Trees
planted a few hundred years ago to line a road no longer there
. The water is pale teal, light, field after field. Spire, steeple, sea

of trees that line roads long disappeared along with their houses, which were
great houses in their time.