Between Selves

Published in 2023 by Cyber

Author’s Description

BETWEEN SELVES explores how relationships continually form, fracture and reform our identities; how a parents’ long stable marriage affected my headlong, tempestuous search for love. These poems of marriage, conflict, divorce, heritage, desire, loss, mortality, forgetting and remembering, end with acceptance and self-acceptance: “I take nothing back./The sun has reached the day I’m in.”


All the poems in Between Selves are finely wrought. The poems about parental aging and decline are sad and beautiful, especially “Mental Status Exam” and “A Marriage in Six Albums.” Poems like these set an elegiac tone that lingers through the collection without casting it into gloom. The larger topic is the complexity and strain of human relations, especially marriage. As the father says, “the secret/ to a happy marriage/ is to give in. /Someone has to win.” Glances at other relationships–the speaker’s own marriages—confirm this cynical but witty view. It even applies, however subtly, to poems like “Open Mic Night” about one’s relationship to one’s self. The poetry exudes from the rhythms of memory, acts of recounting and recovering, perception and evocation. Some of the best, like “Closure,” offer objective correlatives that discover emotions too complex to directly address. But there’s also the “small precision”—dental work, in the poem “The Day My Mother Dies”—the comfort of exactitude and small certainties. These certainties don’t resolve the larger, cloudier problems, but they help us stand up to the doubts and uncertainties of our lives.

— William Doreski, “The Modern Voice in American Poetry"

‌Diana Cole’s “Between Selves” is a collection of poems that delves into an intricate landscape of identity, self-discovery and the connections that tend to weave in and out throughout our lives. Cole uses a graceful blend of lyrical expression and a deep introspection to take her readers on a transformative poetical journey. The strength of the collection lies in her ability to capture the universal human experience while also embracing how unique that can be. Cole’s language is accessible. This allows for readers to be able to connect with the themes and the emotions contained in each poem. Her words strike a chord and will resonate with readers….Cole offers a willingness to dive into her own vulnerability to add such an authenticity to each of her poems. She has a keen observation and can elevate perhaps ordinary moments into extraordinary ones. The reader will be a participant in this inviting dance to experience the themes she brings forth in the book. This makes for a compelling read! This book of poems perfectly captures ideas and intricate tapestries of layers of the author’s life, writings, and observations. This makes for a meaningful collection.

— LB Sedlacek, Author of several books of poetry including “Swim,” “The Poet Next Door,” “Simultaneous Submissions,” and “Words and Bones.” 

Full review:

Diana Cole’s savory poems find, with delicious self-implicating humor and wit—“I never dot an i in a timely way/I just don’t get the point of it”— that although we tend to think of our personalities as given and static, our experience with relationships, with love, life events and deaths, teaches us otherwise, as we learn to adjust our thinking, behavior, and emotions, to survive and thrive, to grow in wisdom and serenity, and revel in present joys, eating “dark and sugary” fudge, seeing how “buds burst pink smoke.”

— April Ossmann,  Author: Event Boundaries