87 North

(Coffee House, 1999)

“The poems that await the reader along route 87 North delightfully combine an inviting colloquial voice with a solidity of language and a rich texture of verbal music. There is much to be discovered in these nimble, surprising, and delightful poems.”Billy Collins


“From its beginning, the book has an honest tone, a blend of a more relaxed Creeley and a less knowingly casual [Frank] O’Hara—with a little bit of Frost thrown in….87 North will require a different set of muscles in its readers than [Coffey’s earlier book] Elemenopy required: muscles that absorb and process plain speaking about universal emotions, which are not bad muscles, in and of themselves. If you don’t have those muscles, this book might give you some.”Max Winter, Poetry Project Newsletter, February/March 2000


“One of the best poetry books of 1999, 87 North flings the reader across many worlds,

Coffey’s restless spirit touching base with New York City, fathers and sons, and the mysteries of traveling the country alone. His most exciting poems are the ones in which he fuses lyrical forms with the growing dominance of the prose passage. This is a truly captivating, surprising book that should gain Coffey a wider readership.”

The Bloomsbury Review, Vol. 20/Issue 1, Mar/Apr 2000M


“Luminous is one of those words applied too easily to art and to poetry. It applies here. In these poems—set in the country and the city—Coffey has found a fresh way to look at the world in which we live. He can grab the heart.

He can make you want to live forever. —Pete Hamill, “Pete Hamill’s New York Chronicle,” July 26, 1999


“In his second collection, Coffey steps back from the exhilarating linguistic experiments of his first, Elemenopy, into a more familiar, domestic more lyrical posture. Route 87 North is the leg of the New York State Thruway that runs to Saranac, the poet’s boyhood home and the inspiration for poems like ‘Adirondack Sounds,’ in which the narrator tries to instill in his young son a sense of geographic rootedness by asking him  to repeat the place names of his own youth: ‘Beekmantown/ in my boy’s mouth/ is a clear parcel of fields/ farmed for stone and apples…’ Coffey acts as a barometer, registering his self-consciousness in a precise moment of time and physical space.’ Fred Muratori, Library Journal, July 1999


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