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Pierce the Skin
Selected Poems 1982 - 2007

by Henri Cole


Pierce the Skin.† What a perfect title for a perfect little book of poetry.† Henri Coleís selected poems pierce the readerís skin and heart over and over again.† This collection of poetry from the past twenty-five years of Coleís writings is at once beautiful and painful, universal and uncomfortably personal.† Cole writes of his relationship with his parents, and the shell that was their marriage.† He writes unsparingly of the violence and unhappiness of that marriage even as he mourns his fatherís death and his motherís long decline.† Cole longs for love, the kind of love that comforts, enchants and lasts.† And he mourns the death of loved ones.† Each poem is such a self-contained little jewel, capable of being appreciated all on its own.† However, this collection lets the reader not only enjoy each individual piece, but also see how Cole deals with the themes of love and loss, of self-doubt and peace of mind over a twenty-five year period.

Now, I admit up front that I love poetry.† Always have.† I admire the imagery and the wordsmithery it demands.† I love seeing the poetís take on lifeís big questions.† Well, Henri Cole is in a whole different class of poetry!† Yes, his imagery is vivid, and oh yeah, he can weave words together in magical and compelling ways.† But thereís more than mere skill in Pierce the Skin.† The honesty, the unwavering† willingness to delve into the deepest secrets of life just fills this book.† He sees the beauty and the pain in life, nature, love and religion, and takes the reader on the prickly journey with him.† You canít help but examine your own life a little deeper, a little more closely—which can be a little uncomfortable.†† † And maybe thatís the point.† This beautiful book really does Pierce the Skin.

The Book

Farrar Straus Giroux / an imprint of Macmillan
March 2, 2010
978-0-374-23283-2 / 0-374-23283-0
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The Reviewer

Elaine Broome
Reviewed 2010
© 2010