BARBARA COLE is the Artistic Director of Just Buffalo and a 2011 Fellow in Poetry from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Cole began her involvement with Just Buffalo as a teaching artist, working closely with students in the Buffalo Public Schools, before joining the organization as Education Director (2008-2012). Born and raised in Philadelphia, she received her M.A. in Creative Writing—Poetry from Temple University before coming to Buffalo to earn her Ph.D. in English from the University at Buffalo. Since 2000, Cole has been writing the ongoing long poem project affectionately known as foxy moron. In addition to her poetic projects, she edited Poets at Play: An Anthology of Modernist Drama with Sarah Bay-Cheng (Susquehanna University Press, 2010).
“I first read James Joyce’s Ulysses as an undergraduate and was stunned by its innovation as well as the industry of scholarship around this single text, widely considered the most important book of the 20th century. That discovery confirmed my desire to get a PhD. As a grad student, I read Gertrude Stein’s massive work The Making of Americans—arguably the bookend to Joyce’s work. The questions that both of these books raise about legibility and difficulty, what we read and why, continue to occupy my daily thinking and challenge my own writing.”
“Raising two daughters with my husband, Steven Miller.”
Poets at Play is the first book in over thirty years to consider the dramatic and theatrical legacy of American modernist poets, making these plays accessible to students and scholars in one concise volume. This critical anthology presents selected drama by American poets writing between 1910 and 1960 – Wallace Stevens, Edna St. Vincent Millay, H.D., E.E. Cummings, Marita Bonner, William Carlos Williams, Gertrude Stein, and Ezra Pound. Rather than simply treating their plays as poetic oddities, this anthology places the drama of modernist poets squarely within theater history, including production histories and considerations of staging practices, acting styles, and performance venues. The volume opens with a critical introduction to the plays within modernism and includes detailed individual introductions for each play with further reading.
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Cole’s writing exists somewhere between the genres of public confession that we associate with the late Spalding Gray—in this way, a form of drama, but in a distinctly American humorist tradition—and the large-scale collage works of someone like Ted Berrigan or Bruce Andrews, moving assuredly through a mélange of juxtapositions between pop-culture jingles and the delectable traumas (to a teenager) of sexual catharsis. Some of the movement of Foxy Moron doesn’t feel terribly poetic, at least in a Romantic sense; a lot from “life” drops in wholesale, without the lyric ego to compromise the corporate vulgarity of the product displacements or urgency of a teen’s libido, but that is the strength of the work: to remain narrative, engaging and funny despite being suspended in a sort of late-Projective stew, vulnerable to poetic processes of collage and hyper-reference.