Friday, April 10, 2009

#159 The Great Imagination of Cooper Esteban

Cooper Esteban was born in 1953 in Dallas, TX. Growing up, he loved reading genre fiction—first mysteries, then science fiction, then (with Tolkien) fantasy. He also read lots of ancient history, Biblical history, mythology, and these bodies of knowledge began working their way into Cooper’s poems fairly early—when he started writing poetry in high school. Gerard Manley Hopkins was one of Cooper’s early idols, which may have something to do with his affinity for the sonnet and a vigorous syntax. In college, he studied English literature and history, and ancient (mostly Roman) history. After college, he worked for several thousand years in public education (both a teacher and a librarian, though generally not at the same time), during which time he continued to write poetry. Mostly, Cooper was a school librarian (where he also wrote reviews for School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews and Criticas), though he also taught junior high and high school and even a bit of college. He was almost totally unknown and barely published when The Quarterly’s Gordon Lish pulled him out of the slush pile in the late '80s--interested, presumably, in the fact that some of his poems were quite formal, and perhaps in the way Cooper approached subject matter and didn't much write solipsism. Cooper claims to have lived a very mundane daily life, but his poems are the product of a great imagination. Of course, we can only presume Cooper’s tremendous interior life. In 2006, Cooper’s translation of Mario Bellatin's Chinese Checkers: Three Fictions was published. Later that year, Cooper retired to a life of reading, writing, drawing, and traveling. In 2007, his beautiful collection of poems Mosefolket was published. He continues to review books and edit the wonderful (one of the first and best online literary magazines). Cooper is currently trying to place a couple of oddball literary thrillers and has just moved to Alamo, TX on the Mexican border.

Cooper’s collection of poems, Mosefolket.
Cooper is the great editor behind
One of Cooper’s drawings.

1 comment:

Matt Bell said...

Cooper is one of my absolute favorite people that I know only through their editing and their writing and art, and through our too-brief correspondences. Great to finally get to learn a little more about him.