. . . thinking we know where we’re going and then
getting somewhere, despite our intention.
—Peter Cole, from Actual Angels
I was tempted into reading poet Peter Cole’s book, The Invention of Influence, by a review in Jacket2. From the get-go, the signs augured that I’d be in well over my head. Cole is, among other things, “a translator of Hebrew and Arabic poetries, modern and medieval” [Jacket 2], about which I know nothing. But I was intrigued by the idea that his work with translation so powerfully informed his poetry—that Cole was, in this sense among others, a Pasternakian sponge:
[Cole] practices writing as a form of translation, as a “being between” fixed places, with the poet as a transponder, not an orator, a conduit, not a usurper.” [Jacket 2]
I don’t have “proper” receptors for understanding this book of poems, but I’m attracted by its ideas and methods and impelled to attempt to “make it mine.” Here are three examples of my admittedly peculiar process. Continue reading