Sorrow Bread

THE BOOK: Sorrow Bread, New and Selected Poems 1984-2015



THE EDITOR: Walter Cummins

THE PUBLISHER: Serving House Books

Mark CoxSUMMARY: In this collection, poems selected from a distinguished thirty-year career converse with each other across books and across time. Soulful, artful and accessible, these poems explore essential connections–one’s relationship to poetic tradition, the reader, the natural world, other lives, language itself. Cox renews strategies that have served poets across centuries and international borders: voice, rhythm, image, vision, myth, humor, shrewd architectonics whether “free” or not, a willingness to bring the reader decisively into the transaction. The poems often generate dense, shifting constellations of metaphor, and Cox’s voice carries a dreamlike power, yet he stays close to daily existence, mines it, giving especially clairvoyant attention to the difficult, beautiful life of families and the challenges of our mortality. In doing so, he reminds us of what’s important, of the emotional and psychological inscapes that sustain us.

THE BACK STORY: What compelled me to compile this book was the possibility of creating something new that could reflect the consistencies of theme and temperament throughout my body of work. I’ve been writing poems for 50 years; a few patterns have come to light!

WHY THIS TITLE: Think of it as the host of the past.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT:  A wide variety of people respond well to my poetry. I wasn’t always an educator. I was a bridge painter for a decade. I try to be accessible and interesting. The writing can be lively and humorous or somber and comforting. I write about common life issues and the human condition. The right mix of heart, intellect and artfulness is always the key. But nothing goes anywhere without soul and engagement.


Cox essays a huge terrain of subject and feeling, from dark wit to astringent violence to lamentation, from guarded hopefulness to quiet, intensely stirring affirmation.  A lesser poet might see all this fly apart; Cox establishes supple coherence through richly consistent artistic command and scrupulous honesty of vision and voice.  Tony Hoagland has said Mark Cox is “a veteran of the deep water; there’s no one like him,” and Thomas Lux identified him as “one of the finest poets of his generation.”  No one speaks more effectively of the vital and enduring syntaxes of common, even communal, life.  — Richard Simpson.

In Sorrow Bread, Mark Cox is subtle — but never so much as to turn obscure; he is outspoken– but never so much as to turn didactic. His keen intellect shines all through the volume; but more important by my lights is the great heart that nourishes its every poem.  Though nothing here feels redundant, the collection’s well-advised mixing of old with new in almost every section reveals the poet’s longstanding preoccupations: memory, relation, emotional thirst, and not least the importance of modesty and gratitude: “the comfort, finally,” as Cox says in a late entry, “of tenderness and humility and weakness.” — Sydney Lee.

AUTHOR PROFILE:  Mark Cox has published five books of poetry, most recently Readiness (Press 53) and Sorrow Bread: New and Selected Poems 1984-2015 (Serving House Books). He has a 30-year publication history in prominent magazines and has given readings all over the nation. The recipient of a Whiting Writers Award, a Pushcart Prize, and numerous fellowships for his work, he teaches at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and in the Vermont College MFA Program.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Thanks for taking the time to consider Sorrow Bread. If you visit my website, using the link below, you can quickly reach sample files of my poetry. Readers who like my selected will enjoy my new book of prose poems, Readiness, as well.


LOCAL OUTLETS: Pomegranate Books, Wilmington, NC


Sorrow Bread at Serving House

Sorrow Bread at Amazon

Sorrow Bread at B&N

PRICE: $14.95


Mark Cox


(910) 962-3331

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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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