The Sunday Poem by Andrea Cohen

Andrea Cohen (Courtesy Photo)

I’m excited to announce the first installment of Gwarlingo’s new Sunday Poem series.

I want to thank Andrea Cohen for sharing her new poem “Tender” with Gwarlingo readers. I’m a long-time fan of Andrea’s work, and I’m grateful she agreed to be the featured poet for the series debut.

Why a Sunday Poem Series?

Of all artistic mediums, poetry may be the one that is criticized most for “preaching to the choir.” How many times have I heard, “The only people reading poetry today are other poets”? This isn’t true, of course, but it is true that it’s increasingly difficult for poetry to attract a general audience the way films and novels can.

But poetry can be just as rewarding as these other mediums. Poetry doesn’t have to be difficult or obscure to be meaningful, and it doesn’t have to be trite or sentimental to be accessible. My favorite poets, like many of my favorite photographers and songwriters, are able to capture the small, fleeting moments of everyday life, as well as expose larger patterns–they are able to compress and connect disparate ideas and images using inventive language, rhythm, and forms. The poet’s gift is knowing what is most essential.

I created Gwarlingo because I wanted to share great work–regardless of the artistic medium–with an appreciative, smart, open-minded audience. I also wanted to do this in a conscious way that reduced online noise, instead of adding to it. Many of us are in a continual state of information overload. We are overwhelmed by too much choice, too much hyperbole. It’s not that we don’t care about poetry or painting, it is just hard for these mediums to compete. We need quiet, contemplative sanctuaries in our online lives.

And so it occurred to me…Wouldn’t it be nice to open your email on a Sunday morning and find a specially chosen poem nestled between that Facebook message and that dire plea from the Nigerian prince? Many of us begin Sundays with a cup of coffee, a walk, the newspaper, brunch with friends, or some meaningful spiritual pursuit. Poetry is a fitting companion to these leisurely activities. Gwarlingo’s Sunday Poem series is also a nod to Wallace Stevens’ poem “Sunday Morning,” a work I’ve loved since my college days.

This is the only time I’m going to clutter the Sunday Poem page with a long introduction. From this point forward, the series will be short and simple–a single poem along with a brief biography. I look forward to sharing the work of some of my favorite poets with you in the weeks and months ahead.

But enough from me. It’s time to turn this space over to Andrea…

 

The Sunday Poem: “Tender” by Andrea Cohen

Andrea Cohen’s poetry collections include Long Division, The Cartographer’s Vacation, and her newest book Kentucky Derby (a collection I heartily recommend).

Her poems and stories have appeared in PoetryThe Atlantic Monthly, The Threepenny ReviewGlimmer TrainMemorious and elsewhere. She has received a PEN Discovery Award, Glimmer Train’s Short Fiction Award, the Owl Creek Poetry Prize and several fellowships at The MacDowell Colony. Andrea also directs the Blacksmith House Poetry Series in Cambridge, Massachusetts (if you’re a poetry lover in the Boston area, you should check out this great series).

On April 13, 2011, Cohen reached her largest audience yet when her work was featured on National Public Radio’s Writer’s Almanac. (Garrison Keilor’s rendition of “Truth in Advertising” can be heard here.)

In a review for The Guardian, Kate Kellaway observes, “Cohen writes conversational poetry. Her lightness of touch and her lack of self-importance are a tonic. She never travels heavy. Her poems are dominated by the idea of transformation (the outside world is always promising us release from ourselves).”

For more information about Andrea and her work, please visit her website. Her latest poetry collection, Kentucky Derby, is available at Amazon or at your local bookstore.

 

 

 

Tender

Unfolded, crisp–here

are your dollars, with

interest, with blood

 

and sweat, with

antiseptic and the elbow

grease that couldn’t

 

quite clean them. Here

are your dollars, with

their dead men, with their

 

flags, with their pyramids

chiseled and eagles flattened.

Give me back my hours.

 

 

 

 

 

By | 2016-11-11T21:55:58+00:00 07.16.11|The Sunday Poem, Words|Comments Off on The Sunday Poem by Andrea Cohen

About the Author:

I’ve spent almost 20 years helping thousands of successful artists of all disciplines and working to make the arts more accessible. (One friend likes to call me “the arts enabler.”) From 1999-2012 I worked at The MacDowell Colony, the nation’s oldest artist colony, but I've also done time at an arts magazine, a library, an art museum, and a raptor rehabilitation center. In May of 2012 I left MacDowell to pursue writing, speaking, curating, and creative projects full-time. In 2015 I was named a “Top 100 Artist, Innovator, Creative” by Origin magazine. I've appeared as an arts and culture commentator on New Hampshire Public Radio, and in 2017 I was the recipient of the Wampler Art Professorship at James Madison University. I am the founder of the Gwarlingo Salon series, which connects artists like DJ Spooky with rural audiences in the Monadnock region. In 2017 my collaborator Corwin Levi and I will publish our first book, Mirror Mirrored, which combines Grimms’ fairy tales with vintage illustration remixes and the work of contemporary artists like Kiki Smith, Carrie Mae Weems, and Amy Cutler. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, but have called New Hampshire home since 1999. My studio is located in the historic, mill village of Harrisville. I miss fried okra, the early southern spring, and restaurants that stay open past 9:00 p.m., but rural life agrees with me. In New Hampshire I can see the stars, go kayaking or snowshoeing, watch bald eagles fish in the lake, and focus on my creative work in silence. I no longer have to worry about traffic jams; deer, wild turkeys, and frost heaves are the primary road hazards here. Although I live in the country, I’m fortunate enough to be part of a vibrant arts community that extends beyond this small New England village. The quiet days are punctuated by regular travel and frequent visits to museums, theaters, readings, arts events, lectures, and open studios around the country. (You can read my full CV here.) Thanks for visiting Gwarlingo. I hope you'll be in touch.