Writers House director publishes 4th poetry volume

Andrea Cohen, the director of Merrimack College's Writers House, is on a roll. Cohen has published her fourth book of poetry — and landed her second poem in The New Yorker in the past year.

She’s been moved by the response her latest poem, “Lit,” has received from readers.

A 15-year-old girl from Los Angeles wrote to Cohen saying how much the poem means to her; another fan put the poem to music.

“This, to me, is the best thing that can come from getting a poem published,” Cohen said. “It connects us to who we are, who we can be; it connects us to each other.”

The fan puts music to poems as a way to stay connected to his sister, who died of cancer last summer.

Cohen’s 89-page book “Furs Not Mine,” is published by Four Way Books of New York.

“I’d say that one of the things it talks about is loss,” Cohen said. “So I’d say there’s lamentation in it, but there is also wonder, gratitude and humor — and maybe some surprise in the turns that the poems can take.”

It took about two years to write the poems. Cohen’s writing routine usually has her up in the morning sitting at either her kitchen or dining room table. Her writings can be inspired by something as small as a single word, a phrase, or an image.

As soon as she’s done with a poem, Cohen sends a copy to her longtime friend, playwright Naomi Wallace, who was a writer-in-residence at Merrimack last year. Wallace offers her own critique and guidance before the poems go to publication.

Cohen and Danielle Jones-Pruett, the program director at the Writers House, are scheduled to read poetry at the Writers House March 19 at 5 p.m.

Read Cohen’s poem “Lit” at NewYorker.com »

Watch a video of Cohen reading from her book on YouTube:






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