In Fault, Katharine Coles continues to explore her abiding interest in the intersections of science, culture, and history, but the book is perhaps best described as an extended meditation on love. Ranging across time and continents, Coles addresses such figures as Newton, Kepler, and Vesalius, not only with intellectual rigor but also with a humor, intimacy, and buoyant optimism that render her subjects—the figures and the science—accessible within the capacious intellectual, emotional, and physical landscapes of the poems.
Fault has all the inquisitive intelligence of Katharine Coles' earlier work, the thrill of scientific inquiry, the dazzling profusion of sensory delights. But these poems also soar into song--lament, hymn, jazz riff, ghazal. With the passion of one who knows both suffering and desire, Coles illuminates the miraculous accident of our survival, the mystery of eternity contained by fragile bodies. With fearless grace, she exposes the startling similarity between the tenderness of a lover's gaze and the patient precision of a terrorist touching wires. "Happiness must be simple, and enough." No matter how dangerous the world becomes, Katharine Coles lights every line with wonder, and with love.-Melanie Rae Thon.
Whether she's contemplating the history of cosmology or the stern
topography of western canyons, the "touched wires" that detonate the bomb
that destroys a city square or the touched chords of married love,
Katherine Coles writes with stirring passion and impeccable clarity. Again
and again, with nimbleness and delicacy, she locates the precise register
of consciousness, the precise figurative or affective cognate that allows
us purchase on an abstract realm. Her rejuvenating explorations of
inherited forms -- pantoums and ghazals, sonnets and quatrains, slant
rhyme, eye rhyme, end-, embedded-, and metamorphic rhyme -- are
revelatory: I know of no one writing in America today who uses these
lovely instruments to richer effect, the auditory argument now countering,
now corroborating the arguments of heart and mind. This wonderful new
book is varied, engaging, and terrifically smart: it merits and lavishly
rewards the most mindful of readings.