Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988-2008

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

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

Best Poetry Books of 2009 - Brandon Shimoda
Dec 9, 2009

"... if by BEST is meant those books of poetry that inflame both conscious and subconscious mind to such a point that not only the poetry, as fluid summons, but I, as fluid respondent, both obese and fall away at once, then these few books have provided such something, for whatever and individual reason...

Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988-2008 by Norma Cole (City Lights)
A slight Selected, thinner than some of her individual volumes, though still requiring (softly, assuredly) the best of attention. Any invitation of accessing Norma Cole's work must be taken."

- Brandon Shimoda, No Tells

Monday, May 18th: Norma Cole
May 18, 2009

Norma Cole reads from "Where Shadows Fall" at Moe's Books in Berkeley, CA.

- Norma Cole, Moe's Books

12 or 20 questions: with Norma Cole
Oct 16, 2009

"Norma Cole is a poet, painter and translator. Among her books are Collective Memory, Do the Monkey, and Spinoza in Her Youth. Just out are Natural Light from Libellum Press and Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988—2008 from City Lights. Cole's essays and talks, To Be At Music, will appear in June 2010 from Omnidawn Press. Translation work includes Danielle Collobert’s Journals, Fouad Gabriel Naffah’s The Spirit God and the Properties of Nitrogen and Crosscut Universe: Writing on Writing from France. Cole has been the recipient of a Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation Award, Gertrude Stein Awards, the Fund for Poetry, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. A Canadian from Toronto, Cole migrated via France to San Francisco where she has lived since 1977. She teaches at the University of San Francisco.

1. How did your first book change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?

Aha! You use Garamond. I just chose it for the body of my forthcoming book of essays, TO BE AT MUSIC (Omnidawn June 2010). Experience, including "first book," changes one’s life. But every book begins in the nowhere."

- Rob Mclennan, Rob Mclennan's Blog

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."


Mint, Mnemosyne, And Metal: Making Language Tangible
Aug 29, 2009

"Norma Cole was recently in town (editor's note: that’s Seattle, where Olson lives) and I enjoyed her reading and bought her book, Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988-2008. I have had a special fascination for Norma’s work for some time now and this is why: the words have a shiny, tangible brilliance, like knives. Not ordinary knives or hunting knives or those bizarre commando knives I sometimes see in the windows of the Army Navy Surplus store downtown, but Japanese knives, those beautifully balanced knives with linen textured resin handles and blades sharp enough to cut a proton in two."

- John Olson, the glade of theoric ornithic hermetica

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

We Address, A Daily Poem
Apr 26, 2009
"I was born in a city between colored wrappers I was born in a city the color of steam, between two pillars, between pillars and curtains, it was up to me to pull the splinters out of the child's feet." - Norma Cole

Worldstruck, with an instrument
Mar 4, 2009

"An Interview with Norma Cole

Robin: You were born in Canada Norma. I understand that you lived in France for a time. What made you leave, and how did you find your way to San Francisco?

Norma: Actually my husband wanted to go back to Toronto, so we did, and eventually split up. The West Coast looked very interesting to me, especially San Francisco, culturally, politically; so we (my son and I) came out here. At that time he was just about to start first grade, and I wanted to be in a place where we would want to stay—for a while, at least. Thirty years later, we're still here."

- X Poetics