J.L. Cooper

Some sad news

James-Cooper-greyHello friends. Some sad news: following a long illness, J.L (James) Cooper passed away on October 9. You can read his obituary here.

Since his diagnosis of cancer in 2013, Dr. Cooper wrote two books of poetry, two books of short stories, and one novella. He lived to see three of the books published: An Ocean Large Enough (poetry, David Robert Books, 2017), The Sages of West 47th Street and Other Tales of Becoming (short stories, Five Warblers Press, 2018), and A Perfect Stillness: Conversations from the Unconscious (short stories, Five Warblers Press, 2018). He was involved with final revisions to the other two books at the time of his passing. Those two books were just published over the last two weeks: Driving at Night in October (poetry chapbook, Five Warblers Press, 2018) and Spell of the Pelicans (novella, Five Warblers Press, 2018).

A Celebration of Life will be held for Dr. Cooper on Sunday, November 11 at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael, CA.

“Driving at Night in October” and “Spell of the Pelicans” now available

Driving-at-Night-in-October-Spell-of-the-PelicansTwo news books are now available: Driving at Night in October is a 52-page chapbook of 29 poems, and Spell of the Pelicans is a 140-page novella.

Both books are available through Amazon, B&N, Book Depository, and most online bookstores. Links can be found on the new BOOKS page.

“The Sages of West 47th Street” and “A Perfect Stillness” now available

Two news books are now available through Amazon, Book Depository, Powells, and most other online booksellers.

The_Sages_of_West_47th_Street_cover_d3_frontThe Sages of West 47th Street

These memoirs and creative nonfiction stories tell mostly of my youth and early twenties, the psychologist in the boy, childhood in a suburban town during the Cold War followed by a willful outward push into the world, taking to the road. Memories are ephemeral, with shadows and streaks of light breaking through. I’ve found great richness in relationships, as well as in private thought. In the stillness of remembering, important people from my past return with surprising ease. The later pieces are reflective vignettes, following a muse who refuses any interest in linear time. Regardless of the age of characters, everyone is in the making. Many of the characters in these stories are disguised in name and identifying details.


A Perfect Stillness A_Perfect_Stillness_cover_091618

It’s a unique challenge to write fictional accounts of psychotherapy when the author is also a practicing psychologist. Our everyday encounters take place in more contexts than we are aware of, calling for images and descriptions that never conform to a simple appreciation of me, you, ours, distilling and hiding explanations, illuminating wish and need.

These are not disguised stories about actual persons in therapy; they are stories of imagined people, often collective tributes representing all the therapy with women who have been violated, also men in search of meaning, love, culture and family, or finding meaning in relationships when the past has led to pain. A story emerges in a language of intimate construction. Some of these tales are not concerned with therapy; the connecting theme is always the richness of subjective life and our influence on each other’s deepest regions, which can occur within the first moments of meeting.

Readings and Media

J.L. Coopers full-length poetry collection is now available:

An Ocean Large Enough
Imprint: David Robert Books
WordTech Communications LLC, 2017
Available on Amazon

Recent Readings

Sacramento Stories on Stage, The Sages of West 47th Street (link to YouTube). Featuring Joshua Mohr and J.L. Cooper. Read by actor Eric Baldwin.
August 25, 2017

Featured poet on KDVS Radio, 90.3 FM
Dr. Andy’s Poetry and Technology Hour
August 2, 2017

An Ocean Large Enough  Book Launch Event, Sacramento Poetry Center, Sacramento, CA. 7:30 P.M. Also featuring poet Susan Flynn.
June 12, 2017

Third Street Writers: Laguna Beach, California. Book launch, featuring authors of anthology: Beach Reads: Here Comes the Sun
May 11, 2017

Path of the Ground Birds
Sacramento Stories on Stage, featuring Vendela Vida and J.L. Cooper. Read by actor Matthew Rives.
March 25, 2017

KGB Bar: Excerpt from Wooden Swivel Chairs
Second Place Nonfiction, Literal Latte Authors
NYC, November 2014


UPCOMING: Authors on the Move
Featured Poet, Sacramento Library Foundation
An Ocean Large Enough
March 10, 2018

Front Page Article: Carmichael Times
Newspaper story and photos: Susan Skinner
“Psychologist Finds Therapy on Paper”
August 11, 2017

Recent Publications

The Four Corners of the World
Sisyphus, Winter 2017/18

A Son in Tennessee
District Lit, November 2017

“Foggy Day at Heisler Park”
Here Comes the Sun: Beach Reads
Third Street Writers, Laguna Beach, 2017

The Couple That May Still Live on Maple Street
Structo, Issue 16, 2016 (U.K.)

The Annunciation of Charles Nightcloud
Gold Man Review
, Issue 5, 2016

Intention and Resistance in Writing
Craft Talk Blog: The Tishman Review, July, 2016

Hippocampus Magazine, April, 2016

Folia Literary Magazine
, 2016

Willing Branches
Getting Old:
an anthology
KY Story, 2015

In Case of Rapture
Kentucky Review
, 2015 (Links to YouTube reading)

High Noon with Pink Carnations
Tic Toc: an anthology,
Kind of a Hurricane Press, 2014

Reader’s Write (Boxes)
The Sun, 2012, Issue 433

Awards and Recognition


Driving at Night in October
Grand Prize in Poetry, 2018
Crosswinds Poetry Journal
Judge: Lloyd Schwartz, Pulitzer winner in Criticism

“This touching, understated, elegant poem seems perfect – not a note, not a syllable out of place. Yet consistently surprising – and believable – at every turn. Is it a nature poem? A city poem? A poem about a relationship? Yes to all of the above. Elizabeth Bishop said her favorite poems combine “accuracy, spontaneity, mystery.”  “Driving at Night in October has all three of those qualities.”  Lloyd Schwartz

The Sages of West 47th Street
StoryQuarterly, 2016 First Runner-up in the Nonfiction Prize category.
Judge: Meghan Daum

Path of the Ground Birds
Tupelo Quarterly
 Prose Open Prize, 2016
Judge: Adam Johnson, Pulitzer winner in Fiction

“The story ‘Path of the Ground Birds’ quietly meditates upon the efficacy of intervening in the dark course of human events,” writes Adam Johnson, our prose judge. “Here, notes of hope, futility and yearnings deferred echo like the songs of endangered warblers as a surgeon and his naturalist wife ponder whether their best efforts at improving the world are good enough.”

A Summoning of Gifts to Wet Ankles
First Place Short Short Fiction
New Millennium Writings, 2013

“Your series of vignettes and lyrical language capture truths as universal as our urge to return to the sea.” — Alexis Williams Carr, Editor and Publisher, New Millennium Writings

Wood Swivel Chairs
Second Place Essay
Literal Latte, 2014

“Your writing speaks directly and eloquently to the mystery of the various approaches we humans take to tell our stories, each of us working in our own way as best we can with tools ‘as dull as the edge of night’ to discover for ourselves what Robert Boswell calls ‘the half – known world.'” — Laura Geringer (Author of Sign of the Qin)


Short-Listed in Stories That Need to Be Told, 2017 (non-fiction)
Tulip Tree Publishing, LLC.

Eulogy With Paper Lamps
Finalist: 2017 Joy Harjo Poetry Contest
Cutthroat (to be published Spring 2018)

Hands Across a Hickory Table: A Chapbook (seeking publication)
Finalist: 2017 Jessie Bryce Niles Chapbook Contest
The Comstock Review

The Hands of Maria Ortega: Finalist in Fiction: Tahoma Literary Review, 2016

Path of the Ground Birds
Honorable Mention: Glimmer Train
December 2014, Fiction Open

Strangers on a Cliff
Honorable Mention: The Able Muse Write Prize, 2015
Judge: Eugenia Kim

“The language and tone of this story is captivating, and is often as breathtaking as are the vivid descriptions of this setting. The writing risks shifting points of view, and elevates a travelers encounter from the expected to something significant by exposing between the two how much we assume when so little could possibly be known.” — Eugenia Kim (Author of The Calligrapher’s Daughter)

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