Norma Cole is a poet, painter and translator. She received her M.A. in French Language and Literature from the University of Toronto, Canada and for twenty years her work has received great acclaim for its openness to radically divergent traditions and practices. Robert Creeley has written about her work, “Through all the frames of our various rhetorics, Norma Cole makes actual the powers of thinking....” Among her books of poetry are DO THE MONKEY (Zasterle Press, 2006), SPINOZA IN HER YOUTH (Omnidawn Publishing, 2002), MOIRA (O Books, 1996), and CONTRAFACT (Potes and Poets Pr, 1996). Her letterpress volume COLLECTIVE MEMORY (Granary Books, 2006) originated in the context of the installation work by that name, created by Cole at the California Historical Society in San Francisco, CA in 2005. New from Libellum Press is NATURAL LIGHT. From City Lights Books, WHERE SHADOWS WILL: SELECTED POEMS 1988-2008 was published in April 2009. Her recent translation work includes Danielle Collobert's JOURNALS (Aufgabe, 2003), Fouad Gabriel Naffah's THE SPIRIT GOD AND THE PROPERTIES OF NITROGEN (Post-Apollo Press, 2004) and CROSSCUT UNIVERSE: WRITING ON WRITING FROM FRANCE (Burning Deck, 2000). She teaches at the University of San Francisco, CA and has been named Regents' Lecturer at University of California, Berkeley for Fall 2008. Cole has been the recipient of a Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation Award, multiple Gertrude Stein Awards and awards from the Fund for Poetry and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. A Canadian by birth, Cole migrated via France to San Francisco where she has lived since 1977. “Water Is Best” is © 2009 by Norma Cole and reprinted by permission of City Lights Books.
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Water is best

- by Norma Cole

Here from the tap the heart beats
to the talk, the order can
never be discovered in the red
past hay (harvest) in Poison Town

where the action takes place—the
Shah, etc.—the President, etc.—bending
down now trying to pick things up
pretending to read where to read

is to misunderstand hearts and pipes
the fiction of everyday life, a glass
of water with or without ice