By Noelle Kocot
Publication Date: April 1, 2011
ISBN# 9781933517520 (5x7.5 97pp, paperback and limited edition hardcover)
...“Self, I proclaim
You shiny leather, and I love
The way you fit my migration.
Go to it!”
In these new character poems, Noelle Kocot turns to the private lives of others, exploring the quirks and foibles of lifelong relationships. Funny, unpredictable, and deliciously dark, these poems celebrate the manifold possibilities of love and human experience.
Kocot’s ability to assemble the fragments of people’s disintegrating lives is what makes these prose poems magnificent. The people in The Bigger World are helium ghosts lifting Kocot into a personal freedom and the poems are her hand extending down, asking us to rise with her.
Amber Tamblyn, BUST Magazine
From child-hating Horatia and suspect saint Rita to “polyamorous shaman” Rick, widowed Ann burning a scrap of paper with her husband’s name, Francine wanting not happiness but “truth, which was savage/ and dangerous,” and even a “mirthy owl,” Noelle Kocot’s The Bigger World paints dead-on little portraits of human (and avian) chicanery.
Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
Whereas Kocot’s previous two books mourned the loss of her husband in anguished and metaphorically loaded lines, The Bigger World presents brief vignettes about named characters. “Seymour left the beach and traveled / Down a dirt road,” one poem begins; “Saskia took a turn for the better,” starts another. The atmosphere is surreal folklore, Julie Hecht meets Hans Christian Andersen. A tax-cheating dentist’s term in purgatory will last “as long as it takes to fill / Out a million 1040 forms, / Minus one rotation of a drill.” Yet while they read like stories, the poems forswear narrative logic, tumbling their occupants instead among level planes of the banal and weighty.
Siobhan Phillips, Boston Review
This new world she’s created for us to move around in is so different from her other books and yet, like all visionaries (which I unabashedly say she is), this book is the logical and luminous next step a career that has already produced some of the most challenging, daring and compassionate poems I’ve read. I’m thankful for it.
Gabrielle Calvocoressi, The Rumpus
As in all good fables, Kocot forgoes subtle symbols for precise and darkly humorous ones that immediately evoke emotion and morality... And, like fairly tales for grownups, these little narratives often end with happiness unmistakably shaded by disappointment, as when a newly reconciled mother and son “walked/ Silently on, not out of the flames/ Or anything, but just walked on.”
More than anything else, Kocot’s generative imagination is the main catalyst that makes these poems explode. Illuminated, feral, Kocot’s creativity engenders an excitement comparable to being twelve years old, exposed to good poetry or music or art for the first time, and knowing that, for better or worse, things have been bent.
Nick Sturm, Coldfront
The series of third-person narrative vignettes of which The Bigger World is comprised is compulsively readable and not infrequently brilliant. Kocot’s characters boast their own distinctive symbology; the landscape upon which these breezily-recounted stories unfold is one in which nothing whatsoever is as might be expected, and what often seem preposterous plots and personalities soon enough take a turn toward the sublime. Kocot’s language is more often prosaic than cleverly subtle, but the whole is without question more than the sum of the parts: The Bigger World is one of the most pleasurable reads this reviewer has encountered in some time. Every page in this collection offers a new delight.
Seth Abramson, The Huffington Post
The differing realizations or ultimate perplexities involving the interplay of truth/happiness in these narrative poems makes The Bigger World is instructive as well as absorbing.
Thomas Fink, Galatea Resurrects
Kocot’s poetry can be viewed as representative, or even symptomatic, of our times. There seem to be a few noteworthy poets in every generation, those who channel the zeitgeist from a clarifying distance, an artful remove. Noelle Kocot may well belong to this tradition...
Amy Newlove Schroeder, Boston Review
Noelle Kocot is the author of many collections of poetry, including God's Green Earth (Wave Books, forthcoming 2020), Phantom Pains of Madness (Wave Books, May 2016), Soul in Space (Wave Books, 2013), The Bigger World (Wave Books, 2011), and a book of translations of some of the poems of Tristan Corbière, Poet by Default (Wave Books, 2011). Her previous works include the discography Damon's Room, (Wave Books Pamphlet Series, 2010), Sunny Wednesday (Wave Books, 2009) and Poem for the End of Time and Other Poems (Wave Books, 2006). She is also the author of 4 and The Raving Fortune (both from Four Way Books). Her poems have been anthologized in Best American Poetry in 2001, 2012, and 2013. She is the recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, The Fund for Poetry, the American Poetry Review, and a residency fellowship from the Lannan Foundation, and she has taught at the University of Texas New Writers' Project and currently teaches part-time at the New School. She is the Poet Laureate of Pemberton Borough, New Jersey.
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