image of the book cover of body works

body works


dennis cooley

$44.99 HC / $24.99 PB (T)

160 pages

6 x 9 inches

Hardback: 978-1-77385-448-9

Paperback: 978-1-77385-449-6

Epub: 978-1-77385-451-9

April 2023

Buy Now

A humorous, tender, irreverent, and meditative examination of the human body as it passes through time, and as it is celebrated and denied.

The body may be feared. It may be a site of philosophic and theological weakness, a place of fear and contamination. The body may be weak. It is ephemeral and impure compared to what is supposed in an abstracted world of pure intellect. The body may be an obsession, a material concern taken up to the detriment of all else. The body may be a challenge to overcome, an enemy to silence.

In this book, dennis cooley sympathizes with the body. These poems celebrate the yearning, laughing, hurting, tender body. Here, the body is neither a site of conflict nor a place of spiritual weakness, but instead a vessel of experience that works in harmony with the intellect. Bodies burble, rejoice, yearn, and suffer. Bodies grow old, they are injured, they hold strength and grow weak in unexpected ways.

Rejecting the simplicity of transcendence for a nuanced examination of mortality, time, illness, of the things the body promises and the promises the body keeps, cooley is unafraid to challenge the eternal and the certain. These poems are humorous, intelligent, and poignant. body works is essential reading for anyone who lives inside a body that lives within the world.

About the Author

dennis cooley is a founding member and three times president of the Manitoba Writer’s Guild, founding editor with Turnstone Press and professor at St. John’s College at the University of Manitoba. He has lived his creative life on the prairies, where he has been a poet, publisher, teacher, critic, theorist, anthologist, reviewer, organizer, mentor.

Praise for body works

A robust volume of poetry that explores every nook and cranny of what it means to be a human.

ARC Poetry Magazine

These poems resound . . . making more than sorrow of our lost memory and aching bones. The line in Cooley’s voice is a cordial breath, calling us back around to these sound-making and understated bodies of ours.

—Garen Cycholl, The Typescript

Cooley writes of and around the body, utilizing the core of his subject to articulate memory, utilize sound and cadence, all of which is propelled across the length and breadth of his lone and long-standing prairie syntax.

—rob mclennan

Ever the master, dennis cooley reminds us of his stature as the grand magician of poetic play, even alongside the pain and vicissitudes of aging and winter and breaking. cooley’s use of intertext and wordplay are as sharp as ever. New and seasoned admirers alike: read and love.

—Kimmy Beach, author of Nuala: A Fable

There is truly one body being explored here, nakedly and marvellously, in all its guts and gratifications : the poetic corpus.

—J.R. Léveillé, author of Ex Nihilo

body works is flexed with astute musings, slip-slide grins, and adept turns of phrase, thought and feeling. Cooley is a guru of poetry’s forms, line breaks, fun and puns; his explorations of language’s idiosyncrasies, eccentricities, sonics, stretched metaphors, and reinvigorated cliches deliver his ‘messages’, in adroit moves—shifting, and alinear, muscular or deft as needed. As he says, the poet has “fantasies to fant”. If you enter ready-to-engage—””to fant”—with open eye and ear, body works provides a unique and stimulating workout. This is Cooley in his best-fit form.

—Steven Ross Smith, author of the seven-book poetic series Fluttertongue