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Saturday March 27, 2010 in Books
The multifaceted pun in the title of Mark Cochrane’s latest book of poems (a room is a stanza, is a space, is an enclosure; in which a change, a transaction, a metamorphosis takes place) is a barbed hook of seduction for the reader in love with the body of language. And it is ever so clearly the body as a willful and skillful construct of the contrary obsessions of an anorexic bodybuilder persona that’s the subject of this book. The constructed self, each part bulked, ripped and cut from the pages of an anatomy text, preened in the mirror of Narcissus, everywhere stands in for the shape of a perfected language. The homoeroticism of the gymnasium, with its complex rituals of the averted gaze, permit the author a level of textual objectification no longer accessible in the presence of the other, the feminine, where the schoolmates of princess Diana make a subtextual, exegetic mockery of correct sexual politics, complete with time-shared automobiles and offspring.
In Change Room, Cochrane brings back to the lyric and the ode the vast range of subject and object so carefully excised from the conventional language of poetics over the past two hundred years. The body, its parts, functions and secretions are here fetishized by the creative power of desire to the point where the love of its perfection crosses the boundaries of gender and polity. In its explicit bisexuality, Change Room exposes one of the great codes of the lyric convention-the elaborately constructed ambiguity of ““other”“ sexualities, and dissects and examines them with the dispassionate skill and curiosity of a medical professional.
Nothing in Cochrane’s text is left to chance, least of all the metaphor of the body of language. This is a poet who has taped his eyes wide open, who finds a language to address even the readers who ““are among those who have stopped reading.”“ Behind such a poem lies the poet’s daring certainty that the power of language lies not in the act of reading, but in the possibility of the perfection of its body as a public act.
ISBN 13: 9780889224322 | ISBN 10: 889224323
6 W x 9 H inches | 144 pages
$17.95 CAN / $13.95 US
Backlist | Poetry | Bisac: POE011000
QUOTES OF NOTE
“Cochrane dazzles, and that’s for sure. He is a big talent. He has enormous energy and range. Pathology, mythology, family rites, the weirdly homoerotic ambience of the hockey rink, and the sweaty ironies of the gymnasium are some of the fuels that drive his poetics. His writing is muscular, his optic daring and original … Mark Cochrane is a glorious writer.”
– Quill & Quire
“I am attracted to Cochrane’s blast-furnace intelligence, which consumes everything in its path, and his refusal of the heroic stance.”
– BC Bookworld
“A smart guide book for the latest sexual revolution.”
– This Magazine
“_Change Room_ deserves to be recognized as an exciting and challenging example of the new poetics in Canada.”
– torquere: Journal of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Studies Association
“A veritable mine of signifiers and signifieds … Much of the pleasure and excitement – and the poetry invites the sexualized charge of those words – comes from Cochrane’s ability to achieve such layering and resonance with lightning speed.”
– Canadian Literature
“_Change Room_ is tough and brainy, with idiosyncratic language that sometimes shifts to simplicity – the poetic equivalent of a power chord.”
About the ContributorsMark Cochrane
Mark Cochrane lives in Vancouver, B.C. where he practices law and teaches in the English Department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. He is the author of Boy Am I (Wolsak & Wynn, 1995), Change Room (Talonbooks, 2000), and a chapbook called Cat. (above/ground press, 2013). His poetry, essays, or interviews with contemporary writers have appeared in journals including New American Writing, the Capilano Review, Open Letter, and the Malahat Review, as well as numerous anthologies and textbooks.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program; and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.