THE FURRBAWL POEMS
UNCOLLECTED POEMS, 1973-1993
I have a gnome in tattered breeches
I feed with the hound.
He limps out of the forest
And up to the pan.
He laps up the gravy.
He thinks I don't see him.
Steven R. Cope has indeed seen Furrbawl, his
primordial alter-ego; and in the poems gathered here
he shares many such visions, mysterious, exotic, even
disturbing, lurking in the ordinary, conducting us on a
journey across twenty years rich in poetic imagination
and observation, through wonder and humor and
despair and hope, and through his own evolution as a
Published June 2005, xx+174 pages
Clothbound, ISBN 0-9721144-4-0, $27.50
Paperback, ISBN 0-9721144-3-2, $16.50
Steven R. Cope
When Steven R. Cope’s first book of poems, In
Killdeer’s Field, was published in 2002, the back
cover blurb noted that he had never lost “his almost
obsessive attachment to the hills of eastern Kentucky,
where he was born.” Despite the passage of over ten
years and the appearance of a dozen books since that
remark, his obsession remains undiminished.
Born in Menifee County, Kentucky on July 3, 1949,
Cope’s heart is still, and will no doubt ever remain, in
those hills. The undergirding and the heartbeat and
muscle of his creative impulse derive not from the city,
not from the archives of literature, but from a close
and fundamental connection with the land and its
creatures. However, his thought and his vision extend
far beyond any regional boundaries, and his literary
antecedents include such writers as Camus, Hesse,
Tolstoy and London.
Although he has devoted half his life to music as a
songwriter and performer and teacher, having taught
guitar to hundreds of students, and although he has
published over 100 works of short fiction, Cope has
always considered himself first and foremost a poet.
He has taught creative writing at the University of
Kentucky, Morehead State University and Eastern
Kentucky University. He lives in Winchester, Kentucky.
Praise for Steven R. Cope's Selected Poems
"There’s an almost mineral hardness to the language of many of Steven Cope’s poems. I respond instantly to
their flintiness, their restraint, their specificity. These are also—beautifully—thinking, thoughtful poems. Some
capture perfectly the motion of a mind at work, the quick jump-cuts, the self-corrections, the startling leaps
and associations. Others move more slowly and ruminatively, turning and turning their almost talismanic
words—fire, crows, green, song, etc. How nice to have at last such a fine and judicious sampling of Cope’s
work, the recognition that only such an overview can provide of the breadth of his project. We look up from
the volume and, like the imagined “someone” at the end of the poem “Adam,” we smile, thinking, “yes I
know him, / that’s him all right, that’s him."
"One of the sad bells ringing through Steven Cope’s poetry tolls against the foolishness of human violence to
the natural world. The failure to recognize our bond to the woods and streams parallels the divisions in our
human lives, alone and with each other, a division that in time leads to anguish, and that, eventually, to a state
of being that is merely dull and muted. That is where we are. This book, varied, luminous, and true, tells us
only the woods, only the green God-given world, will make us whole."
Steven Cope’s poems talk to us from below the place where language lives. They find the voice of wind, of
fire, of rain, and bring us straight into the house of our being, where we know that “…the tree, the nest, / the
bird, and the egg / are but four ways of being the same thing.”
Steven R. Cope is an essential poet – for Kentucky, and beyond Kentucky – and this Selected Poems is an
Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
With an Introduction by Mary Ann Taylor-Hall
"Steven Cope is one of the best poets we have, and
I’m not talking about just in Kentucky. Not very
many people have noticed. I hope they will now,
with this presentation of the work he’s done over
the past decade or so."
Mary Ann Taylor-Hall
This volume is a milestone in the career of one of
Kentucky's finest authors, containing his personal
selection of the best of his work from all of his
previous volumes of poetry. For those discovering
him for the first time, this is a splendid introduction
to a writer who is himself as much a force of nature
as the world he describes with such love. For those
who know his work already, this is a reminder of
how powerful poetry can be in evoking the natural
world and in rallying us to preserve it.
Paperback, 128 pages
Publication Date: January 2013
Praise for Steven R. Cope and The Furrbawl Poems
"Steven R. Cope is a poet in the tradition of Homer, Whitman, and Yeats. Committed above all to write
even at the expense of creature comfort and in contempt of convention in art and life, he owns a cosmic
vision including animate and inanimate, human and nonhuman, soul and body, God and evil. Within The
Furrbawl Poems is a rich and entertaining world of humor, wit, wisdom, and the myriad
mysteries within existence"
"These are poems by which we may devise our own latitudes and longitudes as we make the journey. They
glow like foxfire, they plead with the terrible urgency of prayer."
"I'm delighted, and relieved, to see Steve Cope's work getting the long-overdue attention it deserves. He's
among our deepest, most eloquent and versatile writers, 'a man come to his senses, a dignity enraged.'"
James Baker Hall
"Congratulations to Steven R. Cope, whose latest collection, The Furrbawl Poems, reveals the courage of a
poet who says what he wants to say and in his own way. Cope writes of childhood and of politics, of the
familiar and of the strange, and somehow all of these previously uncollected poems together say more than
he knows, 'more than can be known.' "
THE FURRBAWL PRIZE
Broadstone Books is proud to sponsor "The Furrbawl Prize" category of the Kentucky State Poetry Society
annual adult poetry competition, judged by Steven R. Cope (aka ol' Furrbawl himself), for the best poem
dealing with the relationship of man and nature.
Cover art: "Stop", mixed media by Staci McKnight Maney.
Used by permission.