Readiness by Mark Cox
"Behind surfaces that can sometimes be wryly comic, Mark Cox is unafraid to risk adult tenderness ('brutal tenderness' he says in one poem) and great empathy for this world’s sufferers. Which is to say that beneath a rich variety of occasions (from an ancient Egyptian mummifier doing up a fifteen-foot crocodile, to a current-day housewife doing up an angel food cake), Cox’s bedrock concern is that impossible thing of endless grief and joy that we call the human condition. These poetic meditations and monologues are some of the least prosaic prose you’ll ever read."
"Tony Hoagland has said Mark Cox is 'a veteran of the deep water; there’s no one like him,' and Thomas Lux identified him as 'one of the finest poets of his generation.' No one speaks more effectively of the vital and enduring syntaxes of common, even communal, life."
Mark Cox's sixth book is a collection of prose poems that range from third-person projections to personal memoir. Though sometimes set in the sixties and seventies, their nostalgia is not an easy one. The poems are marked by the anxieties and ills of their time, many of which seem just as true today.
Cox has been publishing for over thirty years and he brings a sophisticated psychological perspective to bear on the varied occasions for poems. The poems are big-hearted, rich in detail and lyrical, when called for. Their rhythms and tonal atmospheres are masterful. This book has been a long time coming and it was worth the wait.
Mark Cox has previously published five volumes of poetry: Barbells of the Gods (Ampersand Press), Smoulder (David R. Godine), Thirty-Seven Years from the Stone and Natural Causes (both in the Pitt Poetry Series) and Sorrow Bread (Serving House Books). Cox has a thirty-year publication history in prominent magazines and has received a Whiting Writers Award, a Pushcart Prize, and numerous fellowships for that work. He teaches in the Department of Creative Writing at University of North Carolina Wilmington and in the Vermont College MFA Program.