Chaos is the New Calm

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A wise practitioner of the horizontal lyric—a lyric poem that does not rise, but rather spreads over surfaces, coloring them with its particular tincture of consciousness—Wyn Cooper explores an overlooked territory that lies between the crafty irony of Frank O’Hara and the more unalloyed sentiments of contemporary popular culture, discovering unexpected equivalencies and startling imbalances. His speaker’s nonchalance—a new version of negative capability—becomes increasingly challenging as the book unfolds a universe in which, on the one hand, the ideal would be “to be insane again/​to dance the loud night away,/​the crowd on X, a single sway,” and on the other, reality demands that you “Speak now or forever/​hold your hat in your hand.”

--T. R. Hummer



Chaos is the New Calm

Chaos is the new calm
violence the new balm
to be spread on lips
unused to a kiss.

Left is the new right
as I brace for a fight
with a man who stands
on his remaining hand.

Fetid harbor harbor me
until someone is free
to drive me away
from what happened today.

Don’t strand me standing here.
If you leave, leave beer.

(this poem first appeared in Poetry Magazine)

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"Wyn Cooper explores an overlooked territory that lies between the crafty irony of Frank O'Hara and the more unalloyed sentiments of contemporary popular culture." --T.R. Hummer
“Wyn Cooper’s superb postcard poems, deft and exemplary, say just enough, and never too much.”
--Jane Hirshfield
“Wyn Cooper’s poems are tight and pithy and fun.”
--James Tate
Wyn Cooper’s first book, which includes the poem that was made into Sheryl Crow’s song, “All I Wanna Do.”