available as a Kindle book
Cover Art: David Graham, Eternal Flame
In Sister Satellite Cathryn Cofell writes with power and a hard-earned, wide-ranging scope. As poet Oliver de la Paz writes, “the language of Cofell’s debut collection shimmers in amplitudes of love.” Love, yes, but hers is an engaged love that won’t let us go easily. Her poems provide an answer to the politics and pressures of our times, as Cofell wrests the microphone for herself, turns up the volume and the heat and writes about women’s lives and bodies in lines which are funny, bold, defiant, angry and celebratory. Married love and unvoiced lust, pregnancy, miscarriage, adoption, abortion and aging all figure into the mix.
Cofell writes her version of the truth bravely. “The only hard part about the abortion / was getting the car to start,” she tells us in the poem “Her Religion.” She also writes movingly about families (“When I do arrive it will be coffee all day hot in the pot / spoiled milk in the fridge / twin beds bunk beds bags on the floor” from “Getting Home”) and about just how fragile our time is on this planet. In Cofell’s vision, even a brain tumor can bless us with new vision and tenderness: “I will stay. Here. / I will lay by my lay. / From the behind of my heart.” As Kelly Cherry says, “Every woman should read this book. So should every man.”
Cathryn Cofell has published six chapbooks, most recently Split Personality with Karla Huston (sunnyoutside) and Kamikaze Commotion (Parallel Press). Her work appears in such places as the New York Quarterly, North American Review, Oranges & Sardines, Prairie Schooner and Dirty Napkin and has garnered numerous awards including the John Lehman Poetry Prize, the Wisconsin Academy Best Poem Award and multiple Pushcart nominations. You’re likely to find her physically appearing in a Midwest bar or coffee shop, performing tracks from Lip, a CD of her poems set to the music of Obvious Dog. She’s a tireless advocate for the power of poetry, including working with the governor to establish the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission in 2000 and serving as its founding Chair, with a repeat performance in 2012; serving on the board of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets; helping to launch and promote, among others, Verse Wisconsin, the Fox Cities Book Festival, the Foot of the Lake Poetry Collective, the WFOP Chapbook Prize and the Harmony Café Poetry Series. Visit her website for more information.
Appeal for Eclipse
Enough about the damn moon.
Bulimic bitch, four fits
of clothes, all that cellulite
and she still prances,
to light up the sky
when he wants only to be dark,
to be Johnny Cash and strum
the train ride right out of her.
Enough from the poets,
the artists, the astronomers.
Quit coveting her behind his back.
She needs to learn the ways
of a docile woman,
to be viewed askew
from inside a cardboard box,
her trashy peep show ass
puppeted from the earth,
strung up behind the sun
curtained by this ring of fire.
Appeal for Eclipse
I am Knot
Praise for Sister Satellite
It will be a cliché to say so, but it will be no less true: Cathryn Cofell’s Sister Satellite is the portrait of a woman, not Henry James’s “Lady” but a woman … “girl as woman as mayfly, impossible” | “a triangle with unequal sides” | “face down inside my toilet” | breasts like “skipping stones … smooth as porch rails, sweet as pearl onions” | “a $5 for everything rummage sale box” | “the ratty gray parka / shell of me with the gorgeous inner girl” | “whose brain [is] a blowtorch, eyes lit like emergency / bulbs in a blackout” | “woman as guardian angel, as fire.” Cofell’s language is sometimes enigmatic but always meaningful, energy-filled and magnetic, “gasoline … flame” tempered by the light of a “glowing moon.” Brilliant. —Vince Gotera, Editor, North American Review
With six chapbooks already to her credit, Cathryn Cofell presents her first full-length collection, and it’s wonderful. Sister Satellite has sass and snap, a fresh and entertaining voice, but it also wields a sharp edge, cutting deeper as it goes deeper. Sharper and deeper. Frankly feminist, Cofell’s energetic, unconventional poems tell hard truths with wit and wide-open eyes. Every woman should read this book. So should every man.
—Kelly Cherry, author of The Retreats of Thought: Poems
In Cathryn Cofell’s Sister Satellite, Cofell’s speaker crosses the territory of the body and the territory of home in broad contrails across the sky. And though the lessons of past loves and past pain found here return in tidal script, they are true lessons, read like the stars in the sky, and even misread like the one satellite which the mind thinks is a star as it passes from this hemisphere to the next. Though the paths from our pasts may not be clear, what is certain is that the language of Cofell’s debut collection shimmers in amplitudes of love. With lines that brighten like “sugar-lit toddlers” leaping in a multi-colored plastic ball pit, the poems in this collection dazzle and hum. They will stay in your mind’s orbit long after. –Oliver de la Paz
“Pandora may reign in Sister Satellite as goddess of hard knocks, as queen of human frailties, busted dreams, and sorrows, but in her varied talents as a writer Cofell the poet rules.” –Mark Zimmerman in Verse Wisconsin 112, October 2013