Close Apart

Robert Cowan

Published by Paloma Press
ISBN: 978-1-7323025-0-1
Library of Congress Control Number: 2018942360
Pages: 84
Release date: April 2018
Price: $16.00

Paloma Press is delighted to announce the release of CLOSE APART by Robert Cowan.

Close Apart explores states between lovers and friends, parents and children, gangsters and Robert Cowans. Between Manhattan streets, Italian hilltowns, and Siberian forests. Between will, determinism, re-memory, re-death. Between fireplaces and hallways, expansion and condensation. Between us.

From award-winning poet Eileen R. Tabios, “Robert Cowan’s first poetry collection, CLOSE APART, opens with a dramatic, visceral tug at the reader; experience it for yourself through the opening lines of its first poem “Hot and Black Out”:

From Denver Butson, author of the sum of uncountable things (Deadly Chaps), “In Robert Cowan’s moving and spanning debut collection of poems, Close Apart, the numerous lightning flashes (the blackouts and terrorist—and otherwise—attacks, the love for a daughter, the deaths of parents and friends) and their corresponding thunder crashes (the pangs of remembering them years later) come both near to one another and as surprises a long time after. Unlike the “scientific” predictablity of thunder and lightning that we learn early (and some of us still practice later as storms approach), the messy, joyful, devastating unpredictability of life itself, as we are reminded in these poems, is uncountable. Thus, the storms can be right here on top of us at any time, the dead can be “extra dead” as they are on Sunday nights, and we can be extra alive for recognizing them in their absence and for allowing ourselves to welcome the presence of everything else.”

From Donna Masini, author of 4:30 Movie (Norton), “Close Apart begins on a subway, in a community of passengers, with a child in distress, a city in blackout. It’s a generous, deeply empathetic book filled with characters, stories and a remarkable tenderness—for the suffering and vulnerability of children, for the flawed adults they become. A father’s delight in his daughter’s wacky imagination finds a surprising echo in Cowan’s brainy, sophisticated and witty speaker who can move from quantity theory to all manner of magical thinking and numerical rationalization in his restless questions, his attempts to make sense of a chaotic and troubling world.”

From Tom Sleigh, author of House of Fact, House of Ruin (Graywolf), “Like James Schuyler, Rob Cowan has found a way to make ordinary speech into a marvelously supple instrument for recording his love of the city and city life. His curiosity about other people is matched by his affection for their foibles and quirks of character that he so keenly reveals. Wide-ranging in feeling and form, these poems invite you in with their intimacy, directness, and generosity of heart.”

When the southbound 6 train stops underground
it’s dark-blue for a long time. The chubby brown
girl across from me has an asthma attack, gasping

squeezed as she lurches forward. Her mother is
silently hysterical, mumbling, sniveling in empty
space, as the girl wheezes audibly. Our still sweat

crystallizes in collective fear.

“You don’t so much read the poem as feel yourself in the stranded train with the others in the poem, a testament to the poet’s descriptive ability…”


Robert Cowan is a literature professor and dean at the City University of New York. He’s also the author of The Indo-German Identification: Reconciling South Asian Origins and European Destinies, 1765-1885 (Camden House, 2010) and Teaching Double Negatives: Disadvantage and Dissent at Community College (Peter Lang, 2018). This is his first collection of poetry.

CLOSE APART is now available in select bookshops and online retailers (Bookshop, Amazon and other Ingram retail partners). For more information, please email

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