David Cope


2782 Dixie Ave. S. W.
Grandville, MI 49418-1120

Author's Bio

David Cope was born in Detroit and raised on the Thornapple River in Western Michigan; married 48 years, he has three grown children and is an avid gardener, bicyclist, and kayaker. Cope worked 18 years as a school custodian while educating himself in the poetries and traditions not then a part of his college curriculum, and began publishing his Nada Press/Big Scream magazine during those years. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan (August, 1974), and earned his MA plus 30 credits in Shakespeare, English Renaissance Drama, and Dante Studies at Western Michigan Unversity (1994). He eventually taught full time at Grand Rapids Community College, where he developed courses in Multicultural Literature, Shakespeare, and as part of a feminist group, an Introduction to Women’s Studies, also helping colleagues develop their own courses: Women’s Literature and LGBTQ Literature. During his tenure as a professor, he also developed extensive web pages in Shakespeare and Women’s Studies as resources for students.

David is author of seven books of poetry, including The Invisible Keys: New and Selected Poems. He has received a Pushcart Prize (1977), an award in literature from the American Academy/Institute of Arts and Letters (1988), and was Grand Rapids Poet Laureate (2011-2014). He is editor of three anthologies: Nada Poems (1988), Sunflowers & Locomotives: Songs for Allen (1998), and Song of the Owashtanong: Grand Rapids Poetry in the 21st Century (2013). David has continuously edited and published Big Scream for over four decades, putting over 200 poets in print. He has been a visiting poet at Naropa University on several occasions, working with Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman in developing lineups for the 1990 Ecopoetics Conference and the 1994 Beats and Rebel Angels Conference (1994). He has read his poems in the summer sessions with Carl Rakosi, Jack Micheline, Sharon Olds, Galway Kinnell, and Ed Sanders, shared lectures with Allen Ginsberg, and was primary author of the 1990 Declaration of Independence, a document co-edited with other conference presenters and published in Disembodied Poetics: Annals of the Jack Kerouac School, ed. Waldman and Schelling ( U of New Mexico, 1994).

Over the past several years, David’s work has been translated into Chinese by Zhang Ziqing, and the translations have appeared in the Journal of Jianghan University (Wuhan), Poetry (Beijing), and Houston Garden of Verses. His “River Rouge” is being published in RESPECT: Poems About Detroit Music, ed. M. L. Liebler (Michigan State U P, 2018). He has recently completed editing The Correspondence of David Cope and Allen Ginsberg (1976-1996), but has not yet had time to begin seeking a publisher for it.

Publications & Prizes

The Invisible Keys New and Selected Poems (Ghost Pony Press, 2018)
The Great Falls An Anthology of Poems about Paterson, New Jersey (Paterson Poetry Center, 2014)
Poetry in Michigan / Michigan in Poetry (New Issues Press, 2013)
Song of the Owashtanong: Grand Rapids Poetry in the 21st Century (Ridgeway Press, 2013)
Paterson Literary Review (Paterson Poetry Center, 2011)
Long Shot 27 Beat Bush Issue (Long Shot, 2004)
Van Gogh's Ear: Poetry for the New Millennium (French Connection Press, 2003)
Visiting Walt poems inspired by the life & work of Walt Whitman (University of Iowa Press, 2003)
Turn the Wheel (Humana Press, 2003)
Silences for Love (Humana Press, 1997)
Coming Home (Humana Press, 1993)
Fragments from the Stars (Humana Press, 1990)
On the Bridge (Humana Press, 1986)
Quiet Lives (Humana Press, 1983)
City Lights Journal Number 4 (City Lights, 1978)
New Directions 37 (New Directions, 1978)
The Pushcart Prize II: Best of the Small Presses (Avon Books, 1977)
Masks of Six Decades (Nada Press, 2010)
Heaven Bone
Lame Duck
Napalm Health Spa Report
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Prizes won: 

2011-2014 Grand Rapids Poet Laureate. 1988 literature award, American Academy/Institute of Arts & Letters. 1977 Pushcart Prize II (1977).

Personal Favorites

Favorite authors: 
Sappho, the Song of Songs, Dante, Shakespeare, Jonson, Blake, Whitman, Dickinson, H. D., William Carlos Williams, Charles Reznikoff, George Oppen, Carl Rakosi, Gertrude Stein, Robert Hayden, Denise Levertov, Robert Duncan, Allen Ginsberg, Diane di Prima, many others
What I'm reading now: 
My Lost Poets by Philip Levine, Beat: The Latter Days of the Beat Generation by Andy Clausen, It Concerns the Madness by Nancy Mercado, I Want to Be Once by M. L. Liebler, Reading Dante in Renaissance Italy: Florence, Venice, and the 'Divine Poet' by Simon Gilson

More Information

Gives readings: 
Travels for readings: 
Identifies as: 
European American
Prefers to work with: 
Fluent in: 
Born in: 
Detroit, MI
Raised in: 
Grand Rapids, MI
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Last update: Nov 07, 2018