Four Way Books
4
by Noelle Kocot

Winner of the
1999 Levis Poetry Prize
selected by Michael Ryan

ISBN: 1-884800-32-7
paper, 70 pages, $13.95



"One problem for poets is always how to disrupt language enough to get beyond common sense without leaving it behind. Dickinson invented a grammar; Whitman, a rhetoric; Hopkins, a music. By disrupting language they enriched its articulation. It became larger because they used it in and as poetry. I do not believe this is true of the contemporary virtuoso writing 4 is rooted in–performative as opposed to devotional, self-conscious and disengaged, all those painterly surfaces and trick-mirror ironies–which makes me believe that 4 is even better than I think it is, and I think it’s extraordinary. It is also moving–not so much for its sentiments (although there are moving sentiments), but because of the pressure evident in this poet’s solution to that problem: what comes through the relentless semantic invention, syntactical bravura, and occasional laugh-out-loud humor is the emotional urgency that informs genuine rigor, and it’s this–the stakes involved in writing this well–that makes 4 as touching as Sappho at her most naked and plain. This book will demand your best attention, but will repay it, honorably, in the ancient coin."

          —Michael Ryan