New poems by esteemed public radio producer Sean Cole
Sean Cole’s AFTER THESE MESSAGES is built around a series of poems written on the fly. Like Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems, written during his lunch breaks at MOMA, Cole wrote poems while watching TV advertisements. Like ads, the poems are speedy and compressed, packed with argument and imagery, sometimes sublime, sometimes hilarious, but always bordering on the hallucinatory. They weave in and out of the dramedy of this fine collection -- interstitial featurettes that punctuate the action of what you sat down to watch in the first place. Cole’s music is rapid percussions, flipped utterances that mean at least five things all at once.
AFTER THESE MESSAGES marries the plain-spokenness of one of public radio’s most esteemed storytellers, with the buoyant fabulism of O’Hara, Kenneth Koch, and Kenward Elmslie. Unlike a lot of experimental poetry that reads like a lab report of the experiment, Cole’s poetry pulls the reader into the exuberant middle of the experiment, so that we can experience the doubled pleasure of mystery mixed with discovery.
“If you think poets, Sean Cole is there in the company of clowns: Frank O’Hara, Kenneth Koch, Arthur Rimbaud, Sharon Mesmer, Pablo Picasso (you didn’t know Picasso wrote poetry? How little you know!) Sean is home here. He is also home in a Boston streetcar, a New York subway, and in Toronto Canada. Yes, he can make a swift and colorful portrait of Canada in chalk like a street artist, and it’s all there, rivers, beef, round bellies, coins and vastness. ..There are all kinds of string in his ball of yarn: colorful, emotional, fresh string off the sheep of actuality heading for the cliff... These poems are truly delighted to be read, and delightful to read.” — Andrei Codrescu author of No Time Like Now: New Poems
”Babump! What a thrill to have a full-length book from Boston/New York poetry veteran Sean Cole, one of my favorite poets! All the beloved Cole signatures are here in AFTER THESE MESSAGES: the wonderfully grotesque garrulousness, the New England pop surrealism, the rapidity of associative subject changes, the explosively funny stream of bizarre, almost mannerist metaphors, the neologisms (“aglue,” “purgatractive,” “tribusive”), the personist TMI moments which make us blush, the off -kilter idioms we’ve never heard before, and a kind of tone leading which, like the tornado in the Wizard of Oz, repeatedly picks you up and lands you somewhere totally unexpected. From one poet with an obtrusive laugh to another, Sean, I salute you!” —Trace Peterson, editor, the literary journal and small press EOAGH
“Sean Cole maps the landscape of where we really, truly live: inside our heads. It’s here that we rut in memory and desire. It’s here where daydreams happen alongside remorseful thoughts— hopeful ones, too. Like his poem “One Train,” where New York subways joyfully tangle like candy shoelaces, these poems capture the spontaneous, irrational, ever-alive stream of human consciousness. Here are the private thoughts behind the public voice.” —Jonathan Goldstein, host of the podcast “Heavyweight”
Sean Cole's previous poetry collections include The December Project (Boog Literature), Itty City (Pressed Wafer), and One Train (Dusie). His poems have also appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, Court Green, Black Clock, Pavement Saw, and Boog City among other journals, and in the anthology Starting Today: 100 Poems for Obama's First 100 Days. For more than 20 years, Cole has contributed stories to various public radio programs and podcasts including Radiolab, 99% Invisible, Studio 360, and All Things Considered. He is currently a producer and occasional guest host of This American Life.