Cole Swensen

b. 1955
Poet Cole Swensen was born and raised near San Francisco, and has since lived in Santa Cruz, California, London, England, Paris, France, and Denver, Colorado, working as a translator, editor, copywriter, and teacher. She began teaching at an alternative high school while in her early twenties and has since taught in community colleges and universities. She began teaching full-time at the University of Denver in 1996 and is the author of several poetry collections.

In the American Book Review, Fred Muratori described Swensen's poetry in New Math as "a collection of deft, sleight-of-hand lyrics that teased images or ideas through unpredictably widening or shifting chains of association." A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that Swensen's lyrics in New Math are "elusive, obscure, nearly hallucinatory." A reviewer in Publishers Weekly called Swensen's collection Such Rich Hour, "a very long, fragment-strewn, philosophically-minded sequence."

On the Denver University Web site, Swensen described her teaching philosophy: "I stress writing as thinking—as thinking that creates new territory." She urges her students to create new material and revise it over and over, in the context of a workshop, so that they can hone their own critical abilities and will be able to see what could be improved in their work, and how to improve it. "Education is a process of expansion—expanding strategies as writers, expanding knowledge as scholars, expanding concerns as citizens. Every class should be a community in which students safely and certainly expand their worlds."

Career

Poet. University of Denver, Denver, CO, teacher, 1996—. Worked variously as a translator, editor, copywriter, and teacher.

Bibliography

POETRY
  • It's Alive She Says, Floating Island Press (Point Reyes Station, CA), 1984.
  • New Math, William Morrow (New York, NY), 1988.
  • Park, Floating Island Publications (Point Reyes Station, CA), 1991.
  • Numen, Burning Deck Press (Providence, RI), 1995.
  • Noon, Sun and Moon Press (Los Angeles, CA), 1997.
  • Try, University of Iowa Press (Iowa City, IA), 1999.
  • Oh, Apogee Press (Berkeley, CA), 2000.
  • Such Rich Hour, University of Iowa Press (Iowa City, IA), 2001.
TRANSLATIONS
  • Pierre Alferi, Natural Gaits, Sun and Moon Press (Los Angeles, CA), 1995.
  • Oliver Cadiot, Art Poetic, Green Integer (Los Angeles, CA), 1999.
  • Jean Frèmon, Island of the Dead, Green Integer (Los Angeles, CA), 2002.
  • Pascale Monnier, Bayart, Duration Press (New York, NY), 2002.
OTHER
  • Contributor to periodicals, including Chicago Review, American Poetry Review, Boston Book Review, Common Knowledge, Conjunctions, Grand Street, New American Writing, and ZYZZYVA.

Further Reading

PERIODICALS
  • American Book Review, February, 1996, Fred Muratori, The Cadence of Disclosure, p. 21.
  • American Poet, spring, 2002, review of Such Rich Hour, p. 61.
  • Library Journal, June 1, 1988, Louis McKee, review of New Math, p. 116.
  • Literary Review, summer, 2001, Burton Raffel, review of Try, p. 791.
  • Publishers Weekly, April 1, 1988, review of New Math, p. 80; February 22, 1999, review of Try, p. 89; July 9, 2001, review of Such Rich Hour, p. 63.
ONLINE
  • Denver University Web site, http://www.du.edu/ (July 25, 2002).

Discover this poet’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Articles By COLE SWENSEN

  • Canon Fodder
    A list of poems that should be required reading.
  • Drowning in a Sea of Love
    The slippery meanings of the Hero and Leander myth as seen in Cy Twombly's painting and the poem Christopher Marlowe died writing.

Audio & Podcasts

Poem of the Day Poem of the Day Poem of the Day Poem of the Day Poem of the Day Poem Talk

Poet Categorization

LIFE SPAN 1955–

Biography

Poet Cole Swensen was born and raised near San Francisco, and has since lived in Santa Cruz, California, London, England, Paris, France, and Denver, Colorado, working as a translator, editor, copywriter, and teacher. She began teaching at an alternative high school while in her early twenties and has since taught in community colleges and universities. She began teaching full-time at the University of Denver in 1996 and is the . . .

Report a problem with this biography

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.