For her five volumes of poetry over the course of her career, Jane Cooper (1924–2007) was deeply admired by her contemporaries, and teaching at Sarah Lawrence College for nearly forty years, she served as a mentor to many aspiring poets. Her elegant, honest, and emotionally and formally precise poems, often addressing the challenges of women’s lives—especially the lives of women in the arts—continue to resonate with a new generation of readers.
Martha Collins and Celia Bland bring together several decades’ worth of essential writing on Cooper’s poetry. While some pieces offer close examination of Cooper’s process or thoughtful consideration of the craft of a single poem, the volume also features reviews of her collections, including a previously unpublished piece on her first book, The Weather of Six Mornings (1969), by James Wright, a lifelong champion of her work. Marie Howe, Jan Heller Levi, and Thomas Lux, among others, share personal remembrances of Cooper as a teacher, colleague, and inspiration. L. R. Berger’s moving tribute to Cooper’s final days closes the volume. This book has much to offer for both readers who already love Cooper’s work and new readers, especially among younger poets, just discovering her enduring poems.
“[T]he range of mood of [Jane Cooper’s] poetry is very great; its voice is unusually intimate; and the poems seem intent on articulating the full truth, however complex— resulting sometimes in scalp-crawling moments when it seems the poet has gone beyond what is possible to say, to walk out ahead of knowing.”