The Cold War, Kathleen Ossip
100 Best Books of 2011, Publishers Weekly
2011 Notable Books, Academy of American Poets
The Cold War, Kathleen Ossip's second collection of poetry, is a work of startling breadth and wit. From the powerful drama and formal boldness of "The Status Seekers" to the post 9/11 trauma of "Document:" to the various theories of criticism in "The Nervousness of Yvor Winters," Ossip takes up the crazed threads of modern experience and all its contradictions. Each poem, each new approach is an attempt to extract something concrete from an era not yet past—a truly unique thought, a new theme, a personal memory. Yet as the poet probes and wonders, she gradually reveals another narrative, built on strangled emotion and subdued lyricism. "We're sliding aren't we" she remarks. The Cold War is jagged and thought-provoking. It questions the origins and premises of contemporary American culture.
Kathleen Ossip is the author of The Search Engine, which was selected by Derek Walcott for the APR/Honickman First Book Prize and nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and of Cinephrastics, a chapbook of movie poems. Her poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry, Paris Review, Kenyon Review, American Poetry Review, The Washington Post, Fence, The Believer, and Poetry Review (London). She teaches at The New School in New York, where she is Editor-at-Large for LIT, and the Poetry Editor of Women’s Studies Quarterly. Ossip was born and raised in Albany, New York, in a large Italian-Irish family, and now lives outside of New York City with her husband and daughter.
What critics have to say about The Cold War:
“Ms. Ossip conjures delightful and unexpected muses in this socio-poetical exploration of post-World War II America, taking as her starting points Karl A. Menninger, who wrote “The Human Mind”; Vance Packard, author of “The Status Seekers”; and that scalawag of orgone energy, Wilhelm Reich. In this shrewd and ambitious work Ms. Ossip participates in a very old-fashionedsport, parsing the American mind through the filter of cold war paranoia.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Ossip’s pieces invite our understanding, while her refusal to make wholes defies it; that defiance, too, belongs to our time.”
“Ossip’s long-awaited second book is a surprising poetic powerhouse that interweaves the personal and the political in ways that are as aesthetically exciting as they are emotionally rich. . .. Ossip is about to take the poetry world off guard with what is surely among the most various, powerful, and representative (of post-terror America) poetry collections of the past few years.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred boxed review
“A book of impressive breadth, The Cold War, for all its sprawling forms and unexpected source texts and materials, also communicates the poet’s emotional relationship to her country and her art.”
“Ossip’s book is a rebuke to the idea that politics and the personal can’t be fruitfully combined in poetry.”