David Cope was Grand Rapids Poet Laureate from 2011-2014. He studied under Robert Hayden at the University of Michigan, and later received an M.A. from Western Michigan University. He has taught Shakespeare, Drama, and Creative Writing at GRCC for decades. Allen Ginsberg once wrote of Cope's work that he has been "much absorbed in David Cope's poetry as necessary continuation of lucid grounded sane objectivism in poetry following the visually solid practice of Charles Reznikoff & William Carlos Williams. . . . In this area of phanopoeiac 'focus,' David Cope has made the largest body of such work that I know of among poets of his own generation." He is the author of seven books, the latest Masks of Six Decades (2010), and has received an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1988) and a Pushcart Prize (1977). He is editor of Song of the Owashtanong: Grand Rapids Poetry in the 21st Century (Ridgeway, 2013), and editor/publisher of Big Scream / Nada Press, which is celebrating 40 years of continuous publication in 2014. Cope has been a visiting poet at Naropa University on several occasions, and was instrumental in the writing and editing of "A Declaration of Interdependence," featured in Disembodied Poetics: Annals of the Jack Kerouac School. The David Cope Papers are at the University of Michigan Special Collections Library.
The dharma at last
longdead in his dream the boys leap one by one over the cliff into the wild splash & the singing current—the tow pulling them down into green dark & silt where the sunken trees fell & were pinned as well, great black branches looming up in the murk, fish tearing the guts of whitened & bloated corpses as their eyes stared, marbled spheres like moons glowing in the dark. by night, the water clears, the shadow moon reflects off the pale carcasses— & he is awake, panting, the moon shining thru his midnight window. he hears the voices of thousands singing & weeping as police line up & swat batons swat batons swat batons & march march march into the now-screaming singers, their ranks breaking—the one-eyed bard chanting for calm—the ranks all fled, he left alone to sweat on a factory floor, in a madhouse swabbing urinals. now the dreams are all moonlit, no destination & yet this weary traveler sings in his passing steps, careless in the theatre of stars where the dead walk with him daily, nightly, old companions urging him to rest as even days grow darker, the news ever more ominous. he must consider the sleek craft of his final voyages, the turns in his last river, the song he will compose to take him beyond his last lay to sing in dreams where his companions fled, to learn to walk among the living like a shadow in the daylight of their certainties, waiting for them to leap at last.