The Invention of Influence


Peter Cole

Contributors: Harold Bloom

Peter Cole has been called “an inspired writer” (The Nation) and “one of the handful of authentic poets of his own American generation” (Harold Bloom). In this, his fourth book of poems, he presents a ramifying vision of human linkage. At the heart of the collection stands the stunning title poem, which brings us into the world of Victor Tausk, a maverick and tragic early disciple of Freud who wrote about one of his patients’ mental inventions — an “influence machine” that controlled his thoughts. In Cole’s symphonic poem, this machine becomes a haunting image for the ways in which tradition and the language of others shape so much of what we think and say. The shorter poems in this rich and surprising volume treat the dynamics of coupling, the curiously varied nature of perfection, the delights of the senses, the perils of poetic vocation, and more.

More Praise…

“Cole almost always writes beautifully…. His work never lapses in the warmth of its humanity, whether he is anchoring a concise elliptical narrative with excerpts from historical documents or infusing an ancillary set of images with complex music.”

— Daniel Bosch, Berfrois

“Cole is a dexterous writer… The Invention of Influence is skillful with history and lovely with ordinary life: a wonderful book.”


“Masterful…. Deeply allusive, profound, committed verse.”


“A dazzling new book by a writer with “perhaps the most capacious command of the Jewish poetic tradition of any poet now writing in English.”

Religion and Literature

The Invention of Influence surpasses all previous Cole and confirms his standing as one of the most vital poets of his generation. ”

— Harold Bloom, Tablet Magazine

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