Where Shadows Will

Where Shadows Will
Selected Poems 1988-2008; City Lights Spotlight No. 1

Press Reviews

The Poetry Project Newsletter

"Shadows demonstrates the continuity of [Cole's] efforts from poem to poem, book to book, year to year. . . [The collection] crystallizes questions from throughout Cole's career: to what extent is personal experience shared or universal, and what, exactly, is our 'backyard,' anyway? Ancient Egypt? The modern-day Congo? The entire solar system?"
—Chris McCreary

Lana Turner

"Compatriot of a whole generation of French poets whose names are legion--Roubard, Hocquard, Claude-Royet, Collobert--Norma Cole is one of contemporary poetry's quintessential radicals; such a thing is thought beyond these shores. That her new book, Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988-2008 (City Lights books, 2009), confirms this beyond doubt. It seems a document of the intense skirmishes at the beginning of time, when tone was utterly impersonal, maximally capacious....Always political (seldom yet knowingly politicized, as in "'I Saw Shells...'") in its refusal to yield to the demands of a more strident poetics, her work is of a paradoxically pleasant and thoroughgoing antinomian difficulty. It hasn't given up on any ground gained."

—David Lau

Publisher's Weekly

"For the inaugural volume in its new Spotlight series, a sequel to City Lights' famous Pocket Poets line (in which Ginsberg's Howl first appeared), the publisher has chosen this retrospective collection by San Francisco poet Cole. A disciple of Robert Duncan, Cole casts her short poems in jagged verse and prose blocks, by turns abstract ("Imaginations law hits frames"), surreal (“Bark grew up over their faces”) and painterly in a manner that will be familiar to fans of Barbara Guest: “This is the image of effort.” Other pieces work more like disjunctive fables: one such prose poem describes how “A little of life simply escapes from a shallow dish.” Cole is far better known on the West Coast and in experimental poetry circles than anywhere else; in fact, her work is surprisingly accessible given its avant garde origins and ambitions—beautiful phrases and lines leap off the page (“Then his/ signature will have taken place,” reads one poem)—and this concise gathering of poems from her 15 small press books should bring Cole much deserved attention."

Midwest Book Review

"Some poets have a wide library of works, and you'll miss the brightest gems unless you look really closely. "Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988-2008" takes the best of Norma Cole's work from over twenty years, and places it all in one collection as part of City Lights' Spotlight series. An excellent collection to start the series with, "Where Shadows Will" is a poetry reader's delight."

—James A. Cox


"Cole's verse ranges vastly in form and subject, with a large selection of prose poems. Her dialogue with contemporary French poetry is especially evident . . . Even with a half-hearted listen, it's easy to tell that Cole’s poetry is different. Where Shadows Will offers only the beginning of an introduction, a whetting of the palate."


Chant de la Sirene
"'Where shadows will.' The line becomes a luminous mantra through which we open to multiple and different ways of seeing darkness, that re-arrange not only vision but expected syntax all in order to 'figure out' what is being figured without the usual methods of image or vision to do so." —Laura Hinton