a+bend press


Norma Cole
The Vulgar Tongue
21 pages


Cole's use of common language in her uncommonly acute poetry opens once again for the study of the tension between high and low art, and who or what determines the difference.

The Potter's Manual

choking back tears the size
of a football

not in memory, in now, in
the present, while a system is dying

orange chimney-pots, green
water, red cape

an older eye, an older
voice in the sky

lost in the solid sky a switchboard
in the sky

at face value the face again
overdreaming into the present

hearing into mind to that
letter with brutal cordiality

because a person draws an image and on
the surface of the image


Norma Cole is a poet, painter, and translator. Her recent poetry publications are The Vulgar Tongue (a+bend press, 2000), Spinoza in Her Youth (A.bacus, 1999), and Desire and Its Double (Instress, 1998). Scout, a text/image work, is forthcoming as a CD-ROM from Krupskaya Editions. Her current translation work includes Danielle Collobert's Journals, Anne Portugal's Nude (Kelsey St., 2001) and Crosscut Universe: Writing on Writing from France (Burning Deck, 2000). A Canadian by birth, Cole migrated via France to San Francisco where she has lived for the past 20 years.