Thursday, May 17, 2007

Varied Verses Bring Poetry to Wider Audience in New Collection

Michael Cook touches hearts and tickles funny bones with a wide assortment of poetic verse for the weary soul, empty heart and troubled mind in his new collection, "The Rise and Fall of the Mind" (available through AuthorHouse).

Ranging from concise haikus, light ballads and simple love poems to more complex undertakings such as sonnets, villanelles and pantoums, Cook's poetry is diverse enough in composition and subject matter to appeal to all types of readers. Placing particular emphasis on the spiritual significance of psychological states, these poems are designed to help readers in the introspective process of self-realization.

The poem "At the Ballet" illustrates Cook's adept word usage as well as the depth of subject matter:

Death got the biggest hand/ at the ballet tonight.

The audience loved his slow dance -
the way he wielded his sickle
the way he cut down all those young sailors,
bare-chested, in the prime of life.

His skeleton costume glowed in the dark
and charmed us too.

And his strength, his prowess,
as he scooped up bodies and twirled them
around like dolls!

When he suddenly stopped and pointed at me,
I felt the chill.

The dance death danced
entranced us who were watchers tonight,
seduced us, and also made us sad.

So we clapped as hard as we could,
as hard as we knew how,
when Death took his bow.

Through these verses, Cook hopes to reach readers who have felt a void in their lives left by a lack of poetic verse. "Poetry deserves a wider audience," he says. "The hunger for poetry can be seen in the phenomenon of rap music, which is driven by the poetic impulse to communicate orally. This book appeals to those who already love poetry because of its skillful use of language - 'The best words in the best order,' as Samuel Johnson put it. But it also appeals to many who very rarely enjoy poetry because it has become impenetrably dense, obscure and over-intellectual. These poems, in contrast, are written for enjoyment by the whole person: mind, body, heart and spirit. I would hope to reach people who need poetry, but might not know it ... people who appreciate the poetry inherent in the mere fact of being and can respond to the voice of a fellow traveler on the road of becoming."

Cook grew up in New York and pursued a Hollywood film career after studying theater and film at Northwestern University. He soon returned to New York and received a doctorate degree in mathematics. He also studied philosophy and theology for a year at seminary before beginning post-doctoral research at Rockefeller University. Two of the four musicals he has co- authored have been produced: "Le Shotgun Marriage" was made during summer stock and "The Lysistrata Affair" was presented during an Equity Showcase. He currently works on Wall Street in New York where he resides with his wife, Melissa.

Website: The Rise and Fall of the Mind by Michael Cook

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