New Poetry from Writers House’s Andrea Cohen

Andrea Cohen, executive director of The Writers House at Merrimack College, marked the publication of her sixth book of poetry, “Nightshade” this week.

Critics praised the playfulness and profound truths in Cohen’s 73-poem collection released Sept. 3 by Four Way Books of New York.

The Washington Independent Review of Books called the free-verse poems “humorous, smart, and irresistible reading,” noting that each page “has either a conundrum or a puzzle at the center, as Cohen tries to light a dark world…”

Poet Nick Flynn found the poems “amazing and eerie,” while a review in Poets & Writers exalted Cohen’s spare, lyric verses, which “play with dualities such as bitter and sweet, absence and presence, and silence and speaking.”

The title poem reads: “It trades in / poison and // in balms. We / call it bitter- // sweet—what / living isn’t?”

“I start with a phrase, an image or a word – and I don’t know where I’m going,” said Cohen of her creative process. Every poem in “Nightshade” took her to “a place I didn’t expect.”

This is Cohen’s third volume with Four Way Books, coming on the heels of her ninth poem in The New Yorker magazine. Her work has also appeared in Poetry, The Atlantic, The Threepenny Review and The Kenyon Review.

Cohen, who also works in Merrimack’s English Department, teaches creative nonfiction in the fall and poetry in the spring semester.

Hear Cohen read her poem, “Conflation,” at