In his latest effort, Blizzard, Cole has continued the qualities that originally enamored me with him but has done so in a way that reminds us that our experiences and pains are apart of a planet the reflects them back to us with beauty and sorrow ... Cole has filled this book with poems that feel necessary for our time: 'Lingonberry Jam' and 'Haiku' are both beautiful and transportive poems that sing in several tenors at once, but never lose track of how indented they are to be earthly devices. Not only that, like every poem in this collection, they do so with an economy and technique of line that is a feat alone.
...ordinary life shares a plane with the eerie, the uncanny, and the berserk. A menagerie of cats, snails, flies, bees, and other creatures fills these poems, acting simultaneously as heralds bearing news and scavengers feasting on our bodies ... Blizzard is a retrospective volume, seasoned by loss and disappointment ... Cole’s new poems practice a weirdly vigorous stoicism: their serenity seems like one of the terms of a treaty signed with panic. Cole is pacified rather than peaceful, the discipline in his style arising from a deep fear that he is capable of ruthlessness, and even of violence ... Blizzard, like many of Cole’s recent books, is full of sonnets. He has made the form his own: often they begin loose-limbed and amiable, with an anecdote, then fall through a trapdoor of reminiscence and rue ... Cole’s interiority is distributive, resting in oddly sentient neckties, rice puddings, and dandelions, each a repository of his imagination. The dreamer, as the old saw goes, is every figure in the dream.
Most of the better, stronger, and more interesting poems are those that don’t fit the form, but go their own way. The weaker ones scatter the two-word combinations along one after another in a rocking litany: fatigued thought, bad spots, good things, tall pines, seeing eye, gelid body, viscid slime, wet road, dark stone, long game — we’ve barely got started in the book, and I’ve not included strings of adjectives more than one at a time, or a few that are far more obviously to the point. Enough said ... When Cole is not striving (it seems) to fill out a line or a form, he allows himself a different kind of energy. The longest poem in the book, 'Land of Never-ending Holes,' perhaps the most powerful in Blizzard, hasn’t a single wasted word ... n Cole’s best poems, as in a successful Frank Lloyd Wright house, the outside and the inside interpenetrate and merge.
The radiant 10th collection from Cole...draws from the natural world, placing human life alongside the sublime ... Cole’s political commentary is restrained and skillfully orchestrated ... Many of the poems in this section are set in the 1980s, during which the poet was coming of age as a young gay man amid the AIDS epidemic. Readers of this collection will find that Cole’s joie de vivre is a balm for the soul.