Daniel Halpern Peter Cooley - Essay

Peter Cooley

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Traveling on Credit has an ease, depth, assurance and picaresque range of subject matter rare for a first volume. Halpern takes us out of the house, out of America, but remains himself in any adventure, mastering experience while in it. "I've been after the exotic for years," the book begins, but this poet shows us (in the title poem and elsewhere) that the journey is made with imagination and language as much as lifted thumb….

Though his catalogues, his peripatetic quality and his flip-ness relate him to the "New York poets," Halpern focuses on an image just long enough to take it, make it, without the obsessive repetitiousness one has come to associate with that movement recently. He's hip and sophisticated, somebody to watch. (pp. 83-4)

Peter Cooley, "Turning, Turning: 7 Poets Moving In and Moving Out," in Michigan Quarterly Review (copyright © The University of Michigan, 1974), Vol. XIII, No. 1, Winter, 1974, pp. 79-84.∗

Calm and melancholy in tone, the poems in [Life among Others] are diminished, weaker than his earlier work, at best simple sketches or dream scenes. A few, like the last piece, "I am a Dancer," have a strong, clear voice, but most are less elegant, less animated, and rich in metaphor, a backing away from illuminating intelligence towards blankness, suspension, "white images that lift away." Nature is good, man evil in the scheme proclaimed by the title; and an orderly life excludes relationships, so that one lives among, not with, others.

"Poetry: 'Life among Others'," in Virginia Quarterly Review (copyright, 1978, by the Virginia Quarterly Review, The University of Virginia), Vol. 54, No. 3 (Summer, 1978), p. 100.