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April 2004
80 pages  

6 x 8 1/2
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Natural Causes
Cox, Mark
In Natural Causes, a collection haunted by death, compassion, and love, the penchants for metaphor and resonant turn of phrase that informed Cox’s earlier work remain as vibrant as ever.
Mark Cox chairs the Department of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. His awards include a Whiting Writers' Award, a Pushcart Prize, the 1999 Oklahoma Book Award, and the 1999 Society of Midland Authors Poetry Prize. He has received fellowships from the Kansas Arts Commission, the Vermont Council on the Arts, and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. He has served as Poetry Editor of both Passages North and of Cimarron Review, and as Poet-in-Residence at The Frost Place. He lives in Wilmington, North Carolina.
"There’s a gravity and a sorrowful wisdom in Mark Cox’s new poems that make the work of most of the other poets of his generation seem frivolous."—David Wojahn

"Unflinching and beautifully made, these poems seem cynical only at first glance—then perplexed and tender."—Leslie Ullman

"One of the best books I've read in years. In a style that’s brash, offbeat, tough minded, and big hearted, these poems explore the fundamental mysteries of love between parent and child, self and other, self and world."—Alan Shapiro

"Tender beyond belief, uncannily lyrical, morbid and funny and smart, Cox is a master poet of the mystery of presence."—Tony Hoagland

“Had me hooked by the time I reached the fifth poem . . . salt-of-the-earth lyricism worth simmering over. Reading it felt like watching the morning mist hovering over my grandparents’ backyard creek burn away.” -—(Easton, PA) Express-Times, 4/6/04

“This collection teems with rich images and rings with a vibrant voice.”—Dannye Romine Powell, Charlotte Observer, 5/16/04

“Vivid memory intertwines with a rigorously envisioned present and future. Cox has touched on these matters in earlier books, but not so consistently or wish such uncanny thematic force. He speaks across a huge range or subject and feeling, from layered fury to astringent violence to lamentation, from guarded hopefullness to affirmations at once quiet and stirring. It is, altogether, an astonishing and moving tour de force.”—Tar River Poetry, Fall 2004

These poems are well-crafted and for me, more importantly, well-dreamt. I felt ghosts of William Stafford and Rilke smiling as Cox chased his life through its convolutions. This is not a light romp. There are tombstones and heartache, lonely truckers and the achingly beautiful and transient natural world. . . .This is a book for those unafraid to do the work of living and remembering. It is well worth the sweat and the risk.”--Michael Macklin, The Cafe Review, May 2005

Complete Description Reviews
Pitt Poetry Series Table of Contents
Poetry Read a selection from this book

Death haunts the pages of Natural Causes, but so does compassion and love. There is little darkness here, and less despair, despite the abundance of cemeteries, loss, and ghosts—both real and imagined. Mark Cox’s youthful bravado has given way in these poems to an assured sense of understatement. The weight of fatherhood, the loss of a grandmother, the fear of loneliness—these are the details around which Cox plumbs the depths of mortality and memory. Fully comfortable with the domestic tableau from which he writes, this is a poet never complacent. The penchants for metaphor and the resonant turn of phrase that informed Cox’s earlier work remain as vibrant as ever, indeed are heightened, as he masterfully affirms and celebrates the range of familial complexity and human connectedness.


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