A First Collection By the Winner of the 2022 Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize.
This collection of experimental lyric poems, which won the 2022 Marsh Hawk Press Book Prize, explores the porosity of borders inside the imagination. Many pieces are prose poems, whose topics include jazz, Thelonious Monk, the great plains, Philip Guston, hummingbird migration, Ciudad Juárez, river confluences, Yoko Tawada, and the “translation zones” of language, restlessly moving and commenting on themselves.
"Brian Cochran’s poems are precise clusters of sounds through which meaning peeks; they are allegories that slip out of that category as soon as we try to fix them there; they are rivers meeting but not quite blending; they are hummingbirds bursting through the page; they are locations and glimpses; they are migrations of thought, sound, and feelings – “a thousand voices in the wakened field”; they scrutinize differences (“Crows are big, but ravens are enormous, roughly the size of a red-tailed hawk.”); they move effortlessly from “elision” to “ellison”, all while attending to what is and what isn’t there and here, wherever we are in the vastness of our particular geography. They are poems in prose, words distributed across the page, narrow columns, field guides, and letters. Through the medium of poetry, the poet channels the spirits of Jack Spicer, Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, Julia Alvarez, Philip Guston, and dreams of werewolves, and yet they are unmistakably by Brian Cochran. One might say these poems, in all their sensuous densities, are not for everyone, but I would say that they are just for you." — John Yau, Marsh Hawk Press Book Prize Judge
"In these divisive times, TRANSLATION ZONE does the necessary work of illustrating the slippery nature of borders. From the Midwestern plains to Guston, Coltrane, and Cage, to the “bluestem prairie” of a father’s hair, Brian Cochran, well-versed and with wit, travels geographical and literary terrains, forcing us to reevaluate notions of flight, metamorphosis, and the lines of demarcation we set. In this genre-bending work, those lines are drawn in invisible ink—numerous words and bodies forever shifting." —Niki Herd
Granular, we say, to describe a microscopic or detail-driven engagement. Brian Cochran literalizes this figure in “Plains,” as particulates of dust blow across a landscape of buffalo grass and “loess,” accruing into a vast field of loss. Throughout his poems this tactic of precision and invention presides to reveal both beautiful filagree and artful connection. TRANSLATION ZONE may be his first book—it’s surely long overdue—but Cochran writes with remarkable sureness of touch and tone. The play of language is also a deep, even joyous, play of mind, and his formal dexterity is born both of restless curiosity and very wide learning. TRANSLATION ZONE is a book to greet and savor. It crafts a place where “we live in the break . . . and the interrupted / sounding of speech / in a heart, in / a voice, remembered.” —David Baker
Brian Cochran lives in University City, Missouri, a few miles south of where the Missouri and Mississippi rivers collide. He has received fellowships, residencies, and grants from the Millay Colony for the Arts, Bread Loaf, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, and MacDowell. Brian has an M.F.A. from Washington University, and works as a writer at a small engineering firm in St. Louis.