June 14, 2010

Stephen Cope

Stephen Cope [USA]

Stephen Cope was born in Houston, Texas, in 1970, and lived briefly there and in Ohio before moving with his family to Santa Cruz, California in 1977. He received a B.A. in Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1996 and a PhD in Literature from the University of California, San Diego in 2005. He currently teaches literature and writing and Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where he is a Visiting Assistant Professor of English.

Cope’s publications include three chapbooks: to be alone… (Santa Cruz: We Press, 1991), Two Versions (Buffalo: Meow Press, 1999), and Versiones Vertiges (Buffalo: Meow Press, 2000), although he is perhaps best known for his work with George Oppen’s unpublished “Daybooks” and “Papers,” a critical volume of which he has edited and annotated for the University of California Press. Numerous selections from this volume have already been published — most notably in Robert Creeley’s edition of the Best New American Poetry 2002 — and in 1999 he delivered the George Oppen Memorial Lecture in San Francisco.

Cope is also known for hosting memorable poetry readings and reading series’ in Santa Cruz and San Diego. He served for years on UCSD’s “New Writing Series’” committee and, with Joe Ross, founded the “Beyond the Page” reading series in downtown San Diego in 1997. Cope has previously been an editor at We Press and Zazil magazine, and, with Eula Biss and Catherine Taylor, recently co-founded Essay Press, an imprint devoted to publishing book-length works of innovative non-fiction writing.


to be alone… (Santa Cruz: We Press, 1991); Two Versions (Buffalo: Meow Press, 1999); Versiones Vertiges (Buffalo: Meow Press, 2000)

Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English

Bellerophonic Sonnet

because desire does decorum one
better are the inverse fragments
one another insufficient parts
issues otherwise for counting
from my mouth sounds addressed
to depart as if alone autonomous

language I am haphazardly identical

draw from narrative broken-ness
veneration lawlessly absorbs in
verse my masochism’s cross-dressed
passing on transubstantiation, love
implications hung still upside-down
nonetheless well w/o intention in

to the letter I’m indicted by
with love’s fealty’s recorded

Reprinted from Denver Quarterly, XL, no. 2 (2005). Copyright ©2005 by Stephen Cope

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