THE FURRBAWL POEMS
UNCOLLECTED POEMS, 1973-1993
"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
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
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 essential book."
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
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 verse
gathered here—the "uncollected" poems from his first decades of writing that did
not find their way into one of his previous thematic volumes—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 poet.
Praise for Steven R. Cope and The Furrbawl Poems
"Steven R. Cope is a poet in the tradition of Homer, Whitman, and Yeats. Commit-
ted 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
"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
"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.
|BROADSTONE BOOKS titles by
STEVEN R. COPE
"Steven Cope is one of the best poets we have, and
I’m not talking about just in Kentucky."
Mary Ann Taylor-Hall
"Steve Cope is a prophet for our time; we
need to hear his integrity of seeing and
thinking, and his compassionate respect for
our planet and life." Harry Brown
|Publication Date: May 1, 2017
Paperback, 64 pages
Booksellers: Available from
Small Press Distribution
When Steven R. Cope’s first book of poems,
In Killdeer’s Field, was published in 2002,
a 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 many years and the
appearance of many more books since that
remark, his obsession remains undiminished.
Born in Menifee County, Kentucky on July
3, 1949, Cope’s heart ever remains 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 fore-
most a poet. He has taught creative writing at the University of Kentucky, Morehead
State University and Eastern Kentucky University. He lives in Winchester, Kentucky.
Perhaps no poet has ever been more suspicious of language than Steven Cope, and
more than once in his new collection Wa-hita he writes of his misgivings, stating in
“On the Edge” that “I am resolved to look at words // to say best what is there / but
what is there may be inexpressible.” But even if words fail him, he goes on:
I am resolved that the best thing to do
is to love it all anyway
whether or not I am loved,
and the only way to love is with a heart full of blood
which I feel now pumping at my core.
That pumping heart is at the core of all of the poems here, infusing every line with
the vitality that Cope has always drawn from nature and imparted to his readers.
Another theme that runs through all of his work is his uneasy relationship with
culture, however deeply he has immersed himself in it, and here that conflict finds
its full expression (and perhaps a chance at resolution?) in the title poem, wherein
Tchaikovsky and Plath and Mahler and Sexton and Bach and “the wines from the
old country” are swept up along with Cope himself into an apotheosis of “the
thought of a thought” that touches and forever changes him:
blessed be the thing,
blessed be the real or unreal thing
that came and went without warning,
came and went, say,
and opened all my eyes.
Even so, in the final poem he imagines he is gathering the words dropped into a field
by an old poet on “The Back of a Bird” and his old uneasiness returns:
If I gather them now
who can say
if I’ve spread them out on the page
as they were given to me
or if I’ve got them all wrong.
Who knows if this one goes here,
that one over there.
Steven Cope need not worry – every word is just right, and right where it should be.
And all of our eyes are opened along with his.
Praise for Wa-hita
"Throughout this book the poet calls on poetry itself, as the means to grasp even a
remote shadow of transcendent reality. This implies the creation of art is an act of
faith. I couldn't argue with such a claim. Poem after poem in this book snags the
heart, but there is also love abundant in this book, and concluding it I am left
inspired and filled with happiness."
|Publication Date: January 2013
Paperback, 128 pages
|Publication Date: June 2005
Clothbound, ISBN: 0-9721144-4-0
Paperback, ISBN 0-9721144-3-2