• Address 720 East Locust Street | Milwaukee, WI 53212
  • Phone 414.263.5001
  • Hours Tue-Fri 11-8pm | Sat-Sun 12-5pm | Closed Mon
  • Hours Tue-Fri 11-8pm, Sat-Sun 12-5pm, Closed Mon
Event Calendar
November 28 - Jan 31

Vanessa German: Defiant Show of Unity

December 20

Formations Series for New & Improvised Music

readings & workshops
December 22

Community Reading: Midwinter Day

readings & workshops
January 6

Workshop: Verbs as Images/Images as Verbs

special events
January 26 -27

25th Annual Poetry Marathon & Benefit

David Cope

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.

Selected Poems

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.