A meditation on mortality, change, and loss, by
turns somber, thoughtful, and humorous.
Memento Mori observes our human condition through a
poetic kaleidoscope, with glimpses of irony and humor
that offer a refreshing contrast to the more difficult
moments. Coe is a storyteller who writes with
compassion, insight and a razor-sharp eye for detail.
In one of his terrific poems
about jazz musicians, Charles Coe writes: “the notes
that poured from/his guitar and throat weren’t
dazzling,/but they were true—water from/some well we
couldn’t find on a map.” He could be talking about the
unassuming honesty and directness of his own poems,
their wisdom, humor, and generosity.
Schwartz, poet and music writer. (Winner of the Pulitzer
Prize for Criticism)
The poems in Charles Coe's Memento Mori are
suffused with grief and tenderness. A poet of the city,
in poem after poem he shows us, via an empathy
reminiscent of Whitman or William Carlos Williams, the
pathos and poignancy of the ordinary. Here is a poet
inclined toward goodness and decency, devoid of cynicism
yet nobody's fool. Reading these poems we are left more
open, perhaps more willing to brave the possibility that
the world might in fact be more heartbreaking, absurd,
challenging, promising, and even joyful than we let
— Richard Hoffman, author of Noon until Night
“This book does what art is supposed to do. . . . An
immensely satisfying collection.”—Andre Dubus III
“Coe’s book will outlive much of the poetry being
written today.” —E. Ethelbert Miller
conversational but powerful voice. . . . Direct, honest.
We hear and believe.”—Marge Piercy