Robert Cowan

ISBN: 978-1-7323025-6-3
Release Date: June 15, 2019
Pages: 94
Price: $16.00
Distributors: Bookshop, Amazon, B&N, Ingram, Paloma Press

Paloma Press is pleased to announce the release of Elsewhen: pieces by Robert Cowan, an illustrated hybrid collection that blurs the boundaries between poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

Replacement for Words

Boredom used to be disallowed;
it was for the unimaginative,
for the existentially challenged
for the febrile.
Now I am saturated
with eating, dressing, periodicals,

masturbation, design, weather, peoples
obsessions with ethnic anxieties,
American nostalgia for old versions of Europe,

with purple, and containers.
Let us not have a dog,
not know our history,

nor recognize any influences,
be compelled to disemploy words,
move toward the all-water: inhumanity

—past Germanics, beyond Inuits—
like that creature
with that word: distance.

We could replace even him
with spaces,

We can fill
even the idea

of replacement
with ice.


“At the heart of Rob Cowan’s hybrid new book Elsewhen is the void, which functions—in the deadpan tongue-in-cheek tone that animates this collection—as a kind of simultaneous self portrait and ars poetica. Cowan’s meditations arise out of an almost jovial irony and despair as the speaker in these poems leaps between raunch and high abstraction, sampling logos, allegory, politics, wordplay, philosophy, and history. These poems destabilize convention as they carry us down unexpected detours, from the Belt Parkway to a collection of bardos and other liminal states.” —Catherine Barnett

“Robert Cowan’s collection Elsewhen is a delight of culture, sharpness and emotions. A patchwork of scenes, places and peoples, a transparency of history and histories, Elsewhen is a refreshing and necessary read, bathed in the warm light of a long-awaited humanistic sunrise.” —Sébastien Doubinsky

“If the poetry of wit were ever to make a comeback in our age of winsome elegy and compulsory subversion, Robert Cowan would be its maestro. Not here the sex and flowers sopping up the poetic page or the “something kinda bad happened to me once” that earned James Tate’s contempt. Cowan steps up in his second collection with poems that are fresh and wide-ranging, ever-attentive to the world around him and executed in a quick-stepping idiom he owns. Here you will find poems that vibrate with spot-on observation and natural sophistication that pay readers the compliment of recognizing their own acuity and amplifying their imaginations.” —David Rigsbee


Robert Cowan is a professor and dean at the City University of New York, and a volunteer instructor at Rikers Island Correctional Facility. He is the author of two hybrid-genre collections—Elsewhen (Paloma Press, 2019) and Close Apart (Paloma Press, 2018), and two monographs—Teaching Double Negatives (Peter Lang, 2018) and The Indo-German Identification (Camden House, 2010). His poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and scholarship have appeared in various journals and anthologies.


Ada Cowan is a Brooklyn-based artist and photographer whose work has appeared in National Public Radio’s The Salt, Sierra, The Washington Post, and books by Paloma Press and Peter Lang. Currently a student at the NYC iSchool, Ada has studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology, the Frick Collection, the Museum of Modern Art, Pratt Institute, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her work has been selected for Arts Connection exhibits three times and profiled in Time Out New York Kids.

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