Join us for a virtual poetry reading celebrating the launch of Peter Cooley's new book, THE ONE CERTAIN THING, along with Gina Ferrara's THE WEIGHT OF THE RIPENED, which we had originally planned to launch last March before being derailed by the pandemic.

To participate:

  1. Please purchase a copy of THE ONE CERTAIN THING and/or THE WEIGHT OF THE RIPENED now from Octavia Books at the bottom of the event page. Books will be signed by the authors.
  2. Register here using the button bellow:


Peter Cooley's eleventh book of poetry is an elegy, not only of lamentation but also of self-reckoning in the face of his wife's sudden death, after a marriage of half a century. The three-part conversation between the speaker, his wife, and God, plays across landscapes of home and the natural world. Faith and imagination carry us backward until the past and the present are one in language.

The power of elegy, like that of prayer, is to work this transformation: one voice summons another, becoming two. The dead may speak to us in the circumference of a scrubbed pot / or folding laundry. Or in the dawn, the blinding luminous, that fleetingly shap[es] the fractured world into unbrokenness. But amidst these eloquent summonings, the most moving passage in this moving book may be the one that dares itself to think outside the parameters of longing: what becomes of us, asks the poet, when the dead have ceased to wonder how we are? In that question lies the true measure of imagination, and of love. —Linda Gregerson

Peter Cooley's The One Certain Thing is a book of tender elegies, and therefore, they are love poems that celebrate what was and what could be if loss were not at the foundation of the human condition. More than that, they are romantic love poems that declare everlasting love for the lost lover: "This morning when I woke up, you were here, / an indentation in the sheets." And just as that love remains in spite of absence, these well-crafted little wonders further document Cooley's 45 years of books dedicated to the poetic line and its power: "I take that darkness-light, / I hold it with both hands. It's everything, / everything of you I get to keep.—Jericho Brown


These poems are poised and self-contained, humming with an internal logic and an external music that soothes and disturbs by turns. They are dense and lush, yet offer the reader uncluttered clarity. Rich with a physicality through which the spirit is revealed, these poems feint from fruits and flowers to family history, including the poet’s own in utero, never far from the music of New Orleans street names or the interior puzzles of language. Shades and scents abound, “a sustainable stain of memory,” in these wary psalms to the healing properties of the physical world, as well as the uses and misuses of love. —Ralph Adamo

Gina Ferrara’s new book of poems Weight of the Ripened takes up Adam Zagajewski’s exhortation to “try to praise the mutilated world.” In this collection of stunning lyric meditations, Ferrara explores the landscape of Louisiana, from the streets of New Orleans to the batture, the levee and the garden.  In “Immersion” she writes, “You are always on the verge of slipping further, / especially without echelons or stratum in this landscape.” And this is a landscape haunted by a beloved mother and an investigation of women through generations. Weight of the Ripened pays homage to our beautiful, broken world. —Nicole Cooley


In astonishing poetic images that bear the weight of memory, grief, trauma, but also the weightlessness of a magnolia leaf floating in the hand, Gina Ferrara’s latest book indelibly signs her name to the fertile poetic legacy of New Orleans—the immersive meanings of tupelo and cypress canopies, her mother’s lipstick and the blood of the river, the city’s “certainty of sinking” and the “deep lavender irises” of the durable batture.  Written after Katrina and in the midst of personal and environmental loss, Ferrara’s poetic alluvium is the city itself, where she follows the “lure of the secretive fig tree” for buried truths, and morning glories for their “deep affirmation” cast through thick dark drapes. A remarkable collection. —Ruth Salvaggio

Peter Cooley was born and educated in the Midwest and has lived over half of his life in New Orleans, where he was professor of English, Senior Mellon Professor of English, and Director of Creative Writing at Tulane University, and is now professor emeritus. The former Poet Laureate of Louisiana, he received the Marble Faun Award in Poetry and an Atlas Grant from the state of Louisiana. The father of three grown children, he published his tenth book, World Without Finishing, with Carnegie Mellon in 2018. Cooley is poetry editor of Christianity and Literature.

Gina Ferrara lives in New Orleans and teaches English and writing at Delgado Community College where she is an associate professor. Her poetry collections include: The Size of Sparrows (Finishing Line Press 2006) Ethereal Avalanche (Trembling Pillow Press 2009) Amber Porch Light (CW Books 2013), Carville: Amid Moss and Resurrection Fern (FLP 2014) and Fitting the Sixth Finger: Poems Inspired by the Paintings of Marc Chagall published by Aldrich Press in 2017. Her work has appeared in Callaloo, The Tar River Review, The Poetry Ireland Review and others. She is an Elizabeth George Foundation grant recipient, and she curates The Poetry Buffet, a monthly reading series held The Latter Branch of the New Orleans Public Library

Event date: 

Monday, March 8, 2021 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm

Event address: 

on Zoom
The One Certain Thing (Carnegie Mellon University Press Poetry Series ) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780887486661
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Carnegie Mellon University Press - February 27th, 2021

The Weight of the Ripened Cover Image
ISBN: 9781948017770
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
(This book cannot be returned.)
Published: DOS Madres Press - March 18th, 2020

Poetry. These poems are poised and self-contained, humming with an internal logic and an external music that soothes and disturbs by turns. They are dense and lush, yet offer the reader uncluttered clarity.

Event Type Terms: