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What Animal (The Contemporary Poetry Series) Paperback – October 27, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Oni Buchanan's work undertakes an encounter with all that is desperately, and strictly, and unavoidably, patterned—all that, inside and outside us, will not cease to pattern us. From DNA to weather cycle, from the mechanics of bodily life, to the mechanics of the unknown puppet-master deity, it is an inquiry undergone with such urgency, accuracy and intensity one grows astonished, even a bit afraid. Kepler, Frankenstein, frequencies of all kinds (musical, erotic, neurophysical, biological, mathematical) merge to inflict their objective truths on the flesh and heart of this animal we call our 'human' being. At times it seems this poet is able to speak from a place closer to the dangerous heart of evolution than anyone has ever attempted, her exploration of the mechanical nature of desire and the desiring face of the inhuman arriving at a ferociously beautiful visionary understanding—hallucinatory, scientific, vatic, and filled with deep longing, sadness and pathos."--Jorie Graham, author of Never


"These poems are like road maps that have been creased and spilled on, so that the experience is one of rupture and loss of direction. The poems exude a knowledge of pain, physical and psychological, and the poems themselves are ways to extract and heal the pain quickly. The animal body, suffering."--Fanny Howe, author of Indivisible


"Oni Buchanan's stunning poems give voice to the animal that is bred by grief, a creature whose experience of private calamity can neither be named nor forgotten, and one who finds herself compelled to replay intricate dramas of estrangement and yearning. It's as though Buchanan's animal had been denied access to the code that would assure continuity between parent and child, present and future, desire and fulfillment, song and action. 'They send me out on an errand for the words,' she writes. Aching and beautiful and brutal and often self-brutalizing, the poems in What Animal are astonishing evidence of the clairvoyance of the bereaved."--Mark Levine, author of Enola Gay


"Odd and intriguing—brilliantly dexterous—and one wonders where this writer will go next.”--Library Journal


"[A] haunting and intelligent debut."--Boston Review


"Throughout What Animal, the speaker's compassion for the damaged animalia is remarkably striking. . . . Buchanan's creatures are ultimately irreconcilable to one another, and in these lacunae lies her agony: in the gap / that's where my crying is." It is her gift to us that, from her bereavement, from "the dirt" and the gaps, she constructs such a radically intelligent map of grief, both hers and ours.”--Verse

From the Publisher

Winner of the Contemporary Poetry Series competition
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Product Details

  • Series: The Contemporary Poetry Series
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press (October 27, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820325678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820325675
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,732,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
Buchanan has given voice to creatures all over the planet - creatures whose silence, it turns out, was not for lack of intriguing intelligent and emotional thought... Her poems are frightening, heart-breaking, and snuggly cute all at once... ("The Ducks and The Bicylce", "The Guinea Pig and the Green Balloon", "The Only Yak in Batesville, Virginia"). I have never loved poetry the way I love Oni Buchanan's masterpieces.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By thespider on August 18, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Question: What happens when a person with no talent, with nothing to say, save for some intellectual trivia and arcane vocabulary - what happens when such a person is allowed to play with words and call it poetry?

What happens when such a person is allowed to wallow in pretentious obscurantism, allowed to write lazy, bland metaphors and defend it by saying she's trying something new, hiding behind the label "language poetry"? Sophomoric sense of drama, self-confused and self-pointing mangling of syntax, mixed metaphors, corny intellectual enjambments, description after bland description that lead nowhere - What do you call this grammatical mess?

Answer: This book. Which is truly garbage of the lowest kind. Of the 200+ poetry books I've read so far, this book holds that most special of places: garbage.
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
Buchanan combines all of the elements that one could hope to find in a young artist: passion, precision, extravagant imagination and brillaint virtuosity. The volume runs the gamut from the accessible (and devastating) "The Guinea Pig and the Green Balloon" to the denser (but no less rewarding) "Secret Arsonist" poems. This book will open your heart, your mind, and your ears; repeated readings will only reward you with new insight into her unique sensibility--and the tragedy of human life--of this I ham certain.
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
Ms. Buchanan's debut is a delirious admixture of surprises. The quality of her thought and impressive control of her lines and imagery make her a young poet far and above many others in her generation. Read this book and you'll encounter worlds you've never known before.
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