The Exchange

The Exchange
Sophie Cabot Black
"These meditative, aphoristic poems deal with paying witness to illness, questioning both the future and the afterlife. . . . In these poems Black weaves sheer elegance and devastating knowing."Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Take it with you on a bus, to a hospital, to wait in line at a bank. You could take The Exchange nearly anywhere and have it speak to you. . . . These poems remind us of the ways we each pass through the stations of a life. In doing this, they capture the wonder of trying to inhabit life’s shapes at all. . . . With precision, Black’s poems skirt great mysteries."—Tess Taylor, NPR, "All Things Considered"

About the Book

“Black’s voice is startling, jagged and implacable, and [her poetry] is steep, precipitous and dazzling.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review for The Descent

I took care of myself. I took care
Of myself, thinking much too often
I took care of someone else.
Everything feels like payment.
                        —from “Pay Attention”
In The Exchange, poet Sophie Cabot Black explores the surprising interplay between mortality and money, between the next world and this one, between the language of disease and the language of finance. Following a beloved friend through long illness and eventual loss, these poems confront in stark emotion the aftermath, even as the outside world—the world of debts paid and collected, of power and dominion—intrudes. What is gained and what is sacrificed, and how can those profits and losses be measured, when the currency involved is love?
Praise for Sophie Cabot Black:
“Black’s taut, resonant lyrics are chastened of all excess verbiage and reveal a poet of keen assurance and consummate craft, but perhaps what most amazes the reader is that such honed writing can speak with such emotional immediacy.”—Boston Review

Additional Reviews

“[Sophie Cabot Black has] concocted a way of speaking in poetry that’s very fresh and daring.”—Billy Collins, The New York Times
A Lambda Literary Award for Poetry Finalist
"The poems in The Exchange . . . are emphatically alive. This fierce energy breathes life back into the hopeless soul. . . . The Exchange is Sophie Cabot Black's best and most eloquent book to date."Huffington Post
"Black has received praise for her taut lyrics of elusive yet enchanting elegance. [The Exchange] continues that trend, and here Black confronts various forms of trade and exchange, from stocks on the New York Stock Exchange, to life for death, to a child for the sacrificial lamb."Booklist
"This austere collection of verse . . . is a poised exploration of the confluence of money, illness, sexuality, power, and sacrifice. . . . The Exchange has a polish that belies the intensity and intellectual ambition of its poetic concerns. . . . an impressive feat of imaginative energy."The L Magazine
"Cabot Black breaks the code of the world of finance by holding it against crucial debts of love and pain. . . . if I may intrude on the author's metonymy [The Exchange] is credit-worthy."Washington Independent Review of Books
"Black crafts a cohesive collection of tightly woven, ruthlessly examining poems. . . . Although Black's deftly woven scenes and sharp intellect make The Exchange a collection worth reading, part of what makes it so deeply compelling stems from her honesty about what loss entails—not only sorrow, but also anger and guilt. . . . The Exchange merits attention for the way it approaches deeply difficult subjects honestly, with a keen eye for the truth."—New Pages
"Cabot Black manages to write poems called "High Finance" and "Preservation of Capital" without losing any sense of what it means to be human. . . . Cabot Black appeals to the emotions of people rather than the cold logic of the market. . . . These poems are unblinking, viewing grief in all its complexities, trying to sort out the knot of friendship and sadness."—Hazel & Wren