"Joanna Penn Cooper's debut collection, WHAT IS A DOMICILE, interrogates the philosophical geographies of female/human embodiment. With the hypnotic languor of time-lapse photography, these dreamy poems, 'lived by the movement of cloud shadow,' document the quotidian rituals of moving through domestic, urban, psychological, emotional, aesthetic, and textual spaces. 'I've cured myself of being / so meta, or else I've embraced it,' Cooper writes in these alternately lush and witty poems, as she wrestles with the art of '[h]ow to wear the crown of love and fresh pita for lunch and let it go.' Like a Russian Matryoshka doll, spaces and lives nest and layer one inside the other—strange palimpsests over other days, hours, histories, ghosts—culminating in the Coke-can sized life growing within the speaker, who forms the vulnerable core from which these existential questions ripple with a gorgeously aching intensity: 'You are in love with someone you just met, who's lying there, too. You barely touch, but you're also the same person. Part of the movie is a tiny spine, tiny kidneys. A four-chambered heart. Look at all the wonder.'"
– Lee Ann Roripaugh, author of On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year
"If you seek innovative poetry that engages with motherhood, this is a must-read."
– from Harriet, the Poetry Foundation's blog
"No matter where you enter this text, I promise you will find Cooper’s musings and revelations engrossing. . . . Cooper’s speaker offers this astute self-assessment:
'I am compelled/ to travel up and down the reality scale, playing whatever/ notes create ambience and distract from the lack of plot.'
There’s a wink and a nod here to every experimental, hybrid, multi-genre, proeming (rhymes with 'roaming'!) writer out there, for whom a linear narrative account couldn’t begin to cover the essential fragments, the labyrinthine tangents, the profound etceteras of the lyric life-record."
– Julie Marie Wade, from her review for The Rumpus
"Balancing outward and inward looking, playfulness and vulnerability, strange intimacy and gauzy disconnection, Joanna Penn Cooper’s The Itinerant Girl’s Guide to Self-Hypnosis builds a moody and tender ladder. These lyric shorts recall the New York School with their arrays of noticings and exultancies and knobbly, vivid particulars, yet they also feel wholly fresh and surprising, and of Cooper’s own nimble and provocative making. This is a wonderful collection."
– Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife
"Reminiscent of a contemporary Scout Finch, the speaker is self-aware and defiant. 'I may have been born chronically homesick,' she says, 'But don’t tell me I don’t know happy.' Shifting in and out of the present time and tense, she is moved partly of her own accord and partly by the thrust of time and circumstance. 'Itinerant' defines travel as circuitous, looping, and repetitive. And so this piece of lyrical fiction is allowed—encouraged, even—to frustrate expectations of linear narrative, as if a villanelle rendered in prose. Reaching back, the speaker casts fresh eyes on her past. Reaching forward, she acknowledges the boundaries of her vision."
– Laurie Saurborn Young, from her review for American Microreviews & Interviews
"Reading Joanna Penn Cooper’s new collection of poems, Crown, is a lot like sticking your head out the window of a fast moving car: it’s exhilarating, turbulent, and a wee bit dangerous. Let’s go!"
– Todd Colby, author of Tremble & Shine
"I absolutely love Joanna Penn Cooper’s poetry. She gracefully changes direction from mid-thought to mid-thought, but I’m always very clear as to what shape she is before she shifts. And I enjoy all her intelligent shapes. This sounds like a lie, but it’s true. I feel so well-treated by these poems. By the zombie in the giant suit Stop Making Sense costume. By the poet wearing the crown. 'Either way, we’re all wearing the crown.' ” –Jennifer L. Knox, author of Drunk by Noon and The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway
from the chapbook:
"Sometimes you can help someone else through by plucking at the air around them until they feel revived. The final step, though, is yours alone. You may discover that no one appreciates the grace of a skateboarder quite like you do. That your secret desire is to appear in a poster in the subway wearing green sequined underwear and own it. We all need time alone before returning to the marketplace with words and gestures that others mirror back to us. Some need more time than others, which is both blessing and curse."
–from the poem "I Am Pleased to Introduce My Brand"