Noemi Press, 2014
In book after amazing book Ruth Ellen Kocher remains a dynamo of lyric and formal invention. Ending In Planes further extends the ways her extraordinary poems experiment with the feeling of experience. Call her our Cecil Taylor, our Martha Graham of the word as she creates a language so otherworldly it seems to move beyond itself. This is remarkable book by a remarkable poet.
Tupelo Press, 2013
“Kocher layers culture on culture – the American quotidian on top of modern-day Italian on top of the remnants of Roman civilization – a palimpestic technique that highlights how supposedly extint countours and patterns bleed through the present day. The primary subject of this collection is a monstrous one – slavery – and Kocher approaches it backwards, holding a mirror. This oblique approach allows us to triangulate our way to truths that remain unavailable to the standard histories, the way the heritage of slavery continues to shape our society. Kocher’s formal innovations reflect unexpected angles on her subject, and surprise us everywhere … “
The Sheep Meadow Press, 2014
I don’t know that I’ve read poems that do longing as beautifully, as bountifully and crushingly as Goodbye Lyric. At nearly every turn we are faced with a speaker who is sorrowfully ravenous for the world, for that which has changed or disappeared. I don’t know exactly how to describe that longing in the context of Kocher’s language, which is lush and precise and like a galaxy swirling in the mouth. It makes something happen in my body unlike almost anything I’ve ever read. It makes me want to touch
New Issues Poetry and Prose, 2003
"This versatile poet blinks at nothing under the stars. Speaking and singing in the many voices and key signatures of poetry, our primal human language, Ruth Ellen Kocher shines and sheds visible and audible light. And to darkness and ignorance, light is still spiritual Kryptonite.”
New Issues Poetry and Prose, 2002
From Foreword Magazine: Kocher’s subject matter is refreshingly varied, the emotional tone drifting from languid, through building, to outrage. Her use of enjambment functions like a brickbat, designed not merely to invite but to stun the reader on to the next line: “She has the terrible love of the praying/ mantis, this girl...”
Lotus Press, 1999
"...At the heart of these stunning poems is a precise and imaginative examination of the thin line that separates beauty and terror, wisdom and madness, tolerance and hatred."
"The classical argument, the channeled mind stream, has a unique surface property; it brings commerce to two cultures. Here, argument becomes sublime and here the poet is truly a carrier of ladders and I think, as the Old Testament author intended, a carrier of ladders has the horizontal strength almost for a perfect burden.