Reap Violet Hiss
Shall As They Have Done
I’ll Knot Fore Weed My Waxen Fawn
ISBN 978-1-959556-79-4 312 pages $20.00
“I wrote my experimental novel Reap Violet Hiss in my 20s through the 1970s in my East Village apartment. It is an abstract, almost cubist novel, where planes of thought intersect with one another, splicing life into constantly shifting images; it may also be read as a prose poem. Drawing upon my unconscious mind, I am a poet who wrote a novel. Just for you.”
I praise Michael Cooper’s poetry as a life-long meditation that celebrates the contemporary possibility of poetic meaning itself. In a time when meaning seems to deliquesce through every attempt to evade or erase the moribund familiar, it is not merely comforting and consoling to read a poetry that, without a megaphone, proclaims that the post-post-post-modern impossibility of communicable, poetic meaning has been grossly exaggerated.
I very much enjoyed and admired these poems—for their delicacy and tenderness, for the way they evoke the mutual permeability of person and world and person and person, for the delicate balance they strike between occlusion and transparency of vision. They remind me of Frank O’Hara’s lovers “drifting back and forth/ between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles . . .” Thank you for entrusting me with them.
Michael Cooper is the poet of the little epiphanies of everyday life—a sensitive person who can find importance and beauty in what sometimes might seem mundane. Michael is not afraid to delve into sexuality, and
often writes rather detailed poetry that mirrors the feelings and behavior of physical love. This is genuine poetry, but rarely obscure. This doesn't mean it's simple, or perhaps superficial. What he has revealed to me is only a small amount of what seems like a lifetime of writing and contemplating reality with a poet's eye.
I am eager to express my astonishment at Cooper's sensibility and love of language. Also his determination to see, feel, to squeeze, report, to blend, delve, to do all those things that celebrate noticing. I relish the bite and theology of a piece like “The Man Who Got Arrested for Impersonating the Deity.” I thought I was reading Frost!
Michael Cooper was born in 1952 and raised in Queens, New York by an artist father and a poet mother. Upon age 17 he ventured forth to the East Village, where he quickly became immersed in the world of the arts. He attended the High School of Music and Art and New York University, from which he received the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Poetry Award. Michael was a frequent reader at the Poetry Project and other venues, as well as being a performance artist associated with the Fluxus group. An early disciple of John Cage from age 16, he served as personal assistant to the publisher, Dick Higgins (Something Else Press), and also to the poet Jackson MacLow. Michael was also Poetry Director of the New York Avant Garde Festival, as well as serving as assistant to the director of that festival, Charlotte Moorman. He went on to earn degrees from Hunter College (B.A., magna cum laude) and Union Theological Seminary in New York (M. Div.). Michael is a retired Episcopal/Anglican priest, having served parishes with a focus on contemplative spirituality. He also had a career as a professional cellist, performing with local symphonies. He is a committed philosophical Taoist, and is the father of four children. Michael is the author of 17 books of poetry and an experimental novel, Reap Violet Hiss. Michael and his son live in Northeast Pennsylvania in a quiet, small town with a cat and two birds and several lovely green plants.