THE COLD WAR

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Ossip's long-awaited second book is a surprising poetic powerhouse that interweaves the personal and the political in ways that are as aesthetically exciting as they are emotionally rich. The book opens with a jumpy ode on melancholy that takes off, as two of the best of these poems do, from a hefty quote from a weighty book (in this poem's case Karl Menninger's The Human Mind) and the words "In those days": "Melancholia, we cherished," writes Ossip, and, later, "The intellect's/ a pissy thing, a fortress." Here and elsewhere, Ossip deftly mixes linguistic registers in poems that blend aspects of confessional writing, social and literary criticism, and history. The book's centerpiece is the traumatized, post-9/11 "Document," a long series of sentences and fragments that attempt to manage an unshakable feeling of danger: "Put space between you and the attack. Oh fruity word!" Or the centerpiece might be the essay/ poetic sequence/ tribute called "The Nervousness of Yvor Winters," which takes off from Winters's life and work to finally ask the question, "Do we want to understand poems, or do we want poems that understand us?" The book gains other dimensions from further sequences and prose fables, such as "The Deer Path," in which "One deer sped by in a small, trucklike vehicle and shouted FUCK! at me through the open window in an unmistakably cruel way." Ossip is about to take the poetry world off guard with what is surely among the most various, powerful, and representative (of post-terror America) poetry collections of the past few years.
 
-Publishers Weekly 

“But how is an individual built? On the theories of the past.” The poems of Kathleen Ossip’s stylistically wide-ranging second collection create their own context, manifest their own landscapes within which the dramas of language and identity unfold. The poet has an uncanny ability to convey what it actually feels like to be alive today, both as a personal “miniverse of feeling, sensation, causation,” and as a social, political, and historical being. Ossip is one of our foremost ethnographers of contemporary unreality.

- The Believer

[N]otable talents like Kathleen Ossip … revive hope for a public poetry…Ossip's book is a rebuke to the idea that politics and the personal can't be fruitfully combined in poetry…I like this book a lot.

 - Anis Shivani, Huffington Post


Kathleen Ossip’s poems occur in the charged space between journal entry, social history, philosophical treatise and dream. These are borderless poems, poems of chaotic beauty. “I believe almost everything now,” she affirms. The Cold War is a bracing delight.

- Dominic Luxford

The history it weaves-that of the second half of the twentieth century, a history that put in place the entire ethos that led to its own dismantling-is incredibly timely. But the book is evocative of growing up in this country even now, with our equally funny and horrifying contradictions. Each time I've read it, I've found myself very moved by its fierce clarity and compassion.

- Susan Wheeler