Originally published in Willow Springs 72

From the author

Notes on “Dolls”

I am fascinated by dolls, dollhouses, and miniature things. They all seem to cast a spell in strange ways and are both infinitely delightful and often disturbing, even creepy. As a child, I was obsessed with my dollhouse and my dolls, as my own daughters have been, too, and as an adult I love reading about dolls and dollhouses—the past histories of dolls, the stories of who owned and kept them, stories of artists who make altered art and jewelry out of miniature dolls, which is really amazing. I think dolls in particular raise a number of themes that interest me, from gender identities to mother/daughter relationships to questions about bodies.

This series of poems, however, was sparked by a walk I took in downtown Merida, Mexico where I was teaching for a week in January. Inside a store, I found the doll “H1N1 Baby” on the shelf. I went home and started writing. Oddly, or not, I finished the series of doll poems in Mississippi, when I was away giving a reading.


Notes on Reading

I love reading—it is truly one of my absolute greatest pleasures in life and always has been. And I will read anything, from a nineteenth-century novel to a cereal box. I start and end every day by reading. It’s my narcotic to fall asleep and my way to enter each day. And when I sit down to write, I always begin by reading.

Right now I’m reading the new nonfiction book by Eve Ensler about her recent illness, the recent British novel Alys, Always by Harriet Lane, the collected poems of Louise Gluck, a book about women who are standup comics who choose not to have children, an anthology of eco-poetry that was recently published, and Frank Bidart’s new book of poems, Metaphysical Dog. I like to have more than one book going at one time. I have my late-night books, my read-on-the-subway books, my reading-to-inspire-my-writing books.


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About Nicole Cooley

Nicole-Cooley_NewBioImageNicole Cooley grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana and now lives outside of New York City with her husband and two daughters. She is the author of four books of poems, most recently Breach (LSU Press) and Milk Dress (Alice James Books), both published in 2010, as well as a novel. She has received the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Emily Dickinson Award from the Poetry Society of America, and a National Endowment for the Arts grant. She is currently at work on a new collection of poems and a nonfiction book, “My Dollhouse, Myself: Miniature Histories.” She is the director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation at Queens College–City University of New York, where she is a professor of English.