Norma Cole

1995 • 82 pp. • $10.00
ISBN: 9781882022281

Purchase from Small Press Distribution

Moira has the complexity of both a mystery and a morality tale. It is ripe with poetic stratagems. Norma Cole has invented a liquid space where figures enter passageways (sections) of “discovery rather than defining.” She examines appearances as if they were granular. She maintains an immaculate stance (and one of surprise) balancing a prose structure with poetry. And the agility with which she disrupts the book’s linearity. As if a continual ticking were still heard in that interrupted space… “The pages were hidden in my mouth.” A “pleated summing up” can only defer to the passageways of an exceptional book.
–Barbara Guest

To recover the telling, the human, we must unwind the tale, unbind the tale, the present seems to say. And to recover meaning, we must resist its simulacra, cajolings and screens. We must allow the voice– the work– its plurality, its silences, its infinite, its pleated body. Such, in part, is the project of recovery and discovery in Norma Cole’s Moira. With striking formal and emotional range, its sequences call toward things and the ideas in motion in them.
–Michael Palmer


Norma Cole is a poet, painter and translator. Her most recent poetry publications are a little a & a (Seeing Eye Books) and Spinoza in Her Youth (Omnidawn Press SCOUT, a text/image work, is forthcoming from Krupskaya Editions in CD-ROM format. Among her poetry books are MARSMOIRA and Contrafact. Current translation work includes Danielle Collobert’s Journals, Anne Portugal’s Nude and Crosscut Universe: Writing on Writing from France. Her translation of Fouad Gabriel Naffah’s Mind-God and the Properties of Nitrogen is forthcoming from Post-Apollo Press. Cole has been the recipient of a Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation Award, Gertrude Stein Awards, as well as awards from The Fund for Poetry. “Poetics of Vertigo,” Cole’s George Oppen Memorial Lecture, won the Robert D. Richardson Non-Fiction Award. She teaches in the Bay area and is on the faculty of the MFA program at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. Canadian by birth, Cole migrated via France to San Francisco where she has lived since 1977.


§ our city has done that and this
§ irritation has returned
§ not to speak of drawing parallels, are not always
taking the context or implications into hand
§ no longer
dreams blind
§ build these things and paint them
§ brightly
Nothing of the past is in these…pictures
stations of the plague
and on a silver tray you also left your card
lazy and erased
elevated by foldings
in three
genealogy of cities, Carthage
daughter of Tyre
to place up
lacing vocabulary of action
places direction with brackish water
wind called splitter or cleaver
refusing to let the supply ship dock