"I'm delighted, and relieved, to see Steve
Cope's work getting the long-overdue
attention it deserves. He's among our
deepest, most eloquent and versatile
writers, 'a man come to his senses, a
dignity enraged.'"       James Baker Hall
This volume is a milestone in the career of one of Kentucky's finest authors, contain-
ing his personal selection of the best of his work from all of his previous volumes of
poetry.  For those discovering him for the first time, this is a splendid introduction to
a writer who is himself as much a force of nature as the world he describes with such
love.  For those who know his work already, this is a reminder of how powerful
poetry can be in evoking the natural world and in rallying us to its preservation.

Praise for Steven R. Cope's Selected Poems

There’s an almost mineral hardness to the language of many of Steven Cope’s poems.
I respond instantly to their flintiness, their restraint, their specificity. These are also—
beautifully—thinking, thoughtful poems. Some capture perfectly the motion of a

mind at work, the quick jump-cuts, the self-corrections, the startling leaps and
associations. Others move more slowly and ruminatively, turning and turning their
almost talismanic words—fire, crows, green, song, etc. How nice to
have at last such
a fine and judicious sampling of Cope’s work, the recognition that only such an
overview can provide of the breadth of his project. We look up from
the volume and,
like the imagined 'someone' at the end of the poem
"Adam," we smile, thinking, "yes I
know him, / that’s him all right, that’s him."

                                                                        Davis McCombs

One of the sad bells ringing through Steven Cope’s poetry tolls against the foolishness
of human violence to the natural world. The failure to recognize our
bond to the
woods and streams parallels the divisions in our human lives, alone and with each
other, a division that in time leads to anguish, and that, eventually, to a state of being
that is merely dull and muted. That is where we are. This book, varied, luminous, and
true, tells us only the woods, only the green God-given world, will make us whole."

                                                                        Maurice Manning

Steven Cope’s poems talk to us from below the place where language lives. They find
the voice of wind, of fire, of rain, and bring us straight into the house of our being,
where we know that
"…the tree, the nest, / the bird, and the egg / are but four ways
of being the same thing."
                                Jane Gentry

Steven R. Cope is an essential poet – for Kentucky, and beyond Kentucky – and this
Selected Poems is an essential book.
                                                                               Frederick Smock
With an Introduction by
Mary Ann Taylor-Hall

“Steven Cope is one of the best poets we
have, and I’m not talking about just in
Kentucky.  Not very many people have
noticed.  I hope they will now, with this
presentation of the work he’s done over
the past decade or so.”

    Mary Ann Taylor-Hall
       I have a gnome in tattered breeches
I feed with the hound.
       He limps out of the forest

       And up to the pan.
       He laps up the gravy.
       He thinks I don't see him.

               —from "Furrbawl"

Steven Cope has indeed seen Furrbawl, his primordial alter-ego; and in the verse
gathered here—the "uncollected" poems from his first decades of writing that did
not find their way into one of his previous thematic volumes—he shares many such
visions, mysterious, exotic, even disturbing, lurking in the ordinary, conducting us
on a journey across twenty years rich in poetic imagination and observation, th
wonder and humor and despair and hope, and through his own evolution as a poet.

Praise for Steven R. Cope and
The Furrbawl Poems

Steven R. Cope is a poet in the tradition of Homer, Whitman, and Yeats. Committed
above all to write even at the expense of creature comfort and in contempt of
convention in art and life, he owns a cosmic vision including animate and inanimate,
human and nonhuman, soul and body, God and evil. Within
The Furrbawl Poems is
a rich and entertaining world of humor, wit, wisdom, and the myriad mysteries within
                                                                       Harry Brown

These are poems by which we may devise our own latitudes and longitudes as we
make the journey. They glow like foxfire, they plead with the terrible urgency of
                                                                       Charles Semones

Congratulations to Steven R. Cope, whose latest collection,
The Furrbawl Poems,
reveals the courage of a poet who says what he wants to say and in his own way.  
Cope writes of childhood and of politics, of the familiar and of the strange, and
somehow all of these previously uncollected poems together say more than he knows,
"more than can be known."
                                                                       Betty Peterson
Cover art:  "Stop", mixed media by Staci McKnight Maney.  
Used by permission.
                     “Steven Cope is one of the best poets we have, and
       I’m not talking about just in Kentucky.”  
                                                   Mary Ann Taylor-Hall

“Steve Cope is a prophet for our time; we
need to hear his integrity of seeing and
thinking, and his compassionate respect for
our planet and life.”   Harry Brown
Publication Date:  May 1, 2017
Paperback, 64 pages
ISBN:  978-1-937968-36-6
Booksellers:  Available from
Small Press Distribution
When Steven R. Cope’s first book of poems,
In Killdeer’s Field, was published in 2002,
the back cover blurber noted that he had
never lost "his almost obsessive attachment
to the hills of eastern Kentucky, where he
was born." Despite the passage of many
years and the appearance of many more
books since that remark, his obsession
remains undiminished.
 Born in Menifee
County, Kentucky on July 3, 1949, Cope’s
heart is still, and will no doubt ever remain,
in those hills.  The undergirding and the
heartbeat and muscle
of his creative impulse
derive not from the city, not from the
archives of literature, but from a close and
fundamental connection with the land and its
creatures.  However, his thought and his
vision extend far beyond any regional
boundaries, and his literary antecedents
include such writers as Camus, Hesse,
Tolstoy and London.  
Although he has devoted half his life to music as a songwriter and performer and
teacher, having taught guitar to hundreds of students, and although he has published
over 100 works of short fiction, Cope has always considered himself first and fore-
most a poet. He has taught creative writing at the University of Kentucky, Morehead
State University and Eastern Kentucky University. He lives in Winchester, Kentucky.
Perhaps no poet has ever been more suspicious of the limitations of language than
Steven Cope, and
more than once in his new collection Wa-hita he writes of his
misgivings, stating in “On the Edge” that “I am resolved to look at words // to say

best what is there / but

       I am resolved that the best thing to do

       is to love it all anyway
       whether or not I am loved,
       and the only way to love is with a heart full of blood

       which I feel now pumping at my core.  

That pumping heart is at the core of all of the poems here, infusing every line with

the vitality that Cope has always drawn from nature and imparted to his readers.  

Another theme that runs through all of his work is his uneasy relationship with
culture, however deeply he has immersed himself in it, and here that conflict finds
its full expression (and perhaps a chance at resolution?) in the
title poem, wherein
Tchaikovsky and Plath and Mahler and Sexton and Bach and “the wines from the

old country” are swept up along with Cope himself into an apotheosis of “the thought
of a thought” that touches and forever changes him:

       blessed be the thing,
       blessed be the real or unreal thing
       that came and went without warning,
       came and went, say,
       and opened all my eyes.

Even so, in the final poem he imagines he is gathering the words dropped into a field
by an old poet on “The Back of a Bird” and his old uneasiness returns:

       If I gather them now
       who can say
       if I’ve spread them out on the page

       as they were given to me
       or if I’ve got them all wrong.
       Who knows if this one goes here,
       that one over there.

Steven Cope need not worry – every word is just right, and right where it should be.  
And all of our eyes are opened along with his.

Praise for Wa-hita

Throughout this book the poet calls on poetry itself, as the means to grasp even a
remote shadow of transcendent reality. This implies the creation of art is an act of
faith. I couldn't argue with such a claim.  Poem after poem in this book snags the
heart, but there is also love abundant in this book, and concluding it I am left inspired
and filled with happiness.
                                                       Maurice Manning
Publication Date:  January 2013
Paperback, 128 pages
ISBN:  978-1-937968-04-5
Publication Date:  June 2005
184 pages
Clothbound, ISBN:  0-9721144-4-0
Paperback, ISBN 0-9721144-3-2
The Bean Can
A Book

“Cope has an affinity with Faulkner and
Flannery O’Connor, but his genius is all his
own. Don’t miss this book!”
                                         George Ella Lyon
Publication Date: October 1, 2018
Paperback, 192 pages
ISBN:  978-1-937968-48-9
Booksellers:  Available from
Small Press Distribution
When Agile Hess goes missing, his mother asks his one-time friend Hills to find him.
This search leads Hills back through memories of a boyhood spent shooting at bean
cans with Agile, until interrupted by tragedy.  Part picaresque crime caper, part
unlikely Grail quest, this book is foremost an evocation of the author's deep love for
the people, the animals, and the land of his native Appalachia.

Praise for The Bean Can

Emotionally raw and true to the bone, this novel won’t leave you where it found you.
The world of best friends Agile and Hills is tragic, comic, shocking, and familiar all at
once. Their story and their families’ history is not set in a place, but woven of that
place. Cope knows the lay of the land, the community of creatures, fields and woods,
as well as he knows his characters, some bewildered, some corrupt, others hanging on
the best they can at the end of an unpaved road.
                                                                                George Ella Lyon