"Evocative of the loneliness and joys of city life."
"A spectacular piece of work...Color
me way impressed."
Penny Cagan's handbound chapbook City Poems is about life in the Big City: Nervous subway rides...ghosts of grandparents...meetings with famous people...the sounds of life...the loneliness that comes only with being among so many people. Graced by the artwork of Daniella Woolf, City Poems was lovingly produced in a two-color process on fine recycled paper. The industrial-strength binding, designed by sculptor Steven Z. Alicandri, is handmade, each book one-of-a-kind. A second edition featured collage artwork by Daniella Woolf on the cover. (Release date: September, 1997. ISBN 0-9661452-0-8. OUT OF PRINT.)
To view Daniella Woolf's City Poems artwork, press on the thumbnail above.
"Penny Cagan's poetry collection "City Poems" is a beautifully crafted,
imaginatively illustrated book and the poems within reflect not only her own
sensitive response to New York City but also evoke and echo the experiences
of all the young who come to "the Big City" to explore and expand their own
Penny Cagan News:
Penny Cagan's second book, And Today I Am Happy, is available from Chatoyant.
Penny Cagan's Making It In America is featured in the anthology Essential Love: Poems about Mothers and Fathers, Daughters and Sons
Penny Cagan's poem, Winning the Prize, is featured in the anthology The Muse Strikes Back. Winning the Prize is about an unnamed contemporary poet with whom Penny worked with as a student. The Muse Strikes Back is an anthology of poems dedicated to or inspired by other poets. Penny's poem is the only one in the anthology in which the poet is not named.
"These are songs of a brave young soul starting out, romantic, timid, in
big city, looking her sometimes lonely life in the face, and making music
of it. I am so moved by her profound honesty and generosity. The tough
beauty of this artbook matches the beauty of Penny Cagan's poems."
- Sondra Zeidenstein, poet and publisher, Chicory Blue Press
Press the above book thumbnail to view both City Poems covers.
On My Way to Work
It's already nine o'clock
and the train stops in the tunnel
somewhere between 34th and 42nd streets,
and the motor is shut off
like a respirator exhaling silence.
Red signal ahead says the conductor
in a voice lucent as the Caribbean Sea,
and adds just a momentary delay,
and then you will be on your way.
A collective sigh is heard through the car.
A woman with hair tossed
into brittle red ringlets
is juggling make-up on her lap:
squirreled away in a burgundy case,
then eye-shadow, lipstick, blush.
A teenage boy with feet longer than he is tall
jabs words into a school notebook
with the force of a blunt pencil,
and the older man next to me,
his soft belly folded over his knees
and the name Robert stitched
into a dark blue shirt, sits
with his legs spread,
head down, snoring.
In the car of late starters,
I wonder if they too are full of regret:
I recall the porter in my building
whose dark eyes plead
as I pass, to stop and chat,
and always I intend to later,
or a friend and her husband
waiting for me last week for an hour
in the lobby of an uptown museum
bundled tight in woolen coats.
I repeat what has become my mantra:
I'm late. I'm late.
Back in the office lights have clicked on,
blinds have been raised,
my boss shuffles papers,
glancing toward my empty desk.
And then the train breathes again
with a long, deep inhalation,
the car lurches forward,
we are all on our way,
© Penny Cagan, 1997
"I wanted to tell you that I
think that the book itself is a spectacular piece of work. I had no idea
that you were responsible for it when I stopped and admired it in
Bookshop Santa Cruz. A very, very striking design and execution. Color
me way impressed."
- Matthew Henken, Professor, UC Santa Cruz