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Primate Behavior: Poems (Grove Press Poetry Series) Paperback – October 28, 1997

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The explorers who start to guide us through Sarah Lindsay's fine and verdant book Primate Behavior are untrustworthy and quickly killed off. Instead of hearing the "safely delivered story" of the first poem, we experience "the fugue on the chaos theme" shot from a circus performer's "Continuum Ray." Lindsay deals in surreal contrivances but keeps her natural histories unwaveringly precise and, further, emotionally moving; witness the final lines of "Lungfish Conquers Depression":
She doesn't know
why this time she pushes past the surface tension
and wimples up the minute incline
on jellied stumps...
She feels a pocket
flex inside her neck, she gapes
at the scoured entry of demanding air.
Wallace Stevens's lush surface pleasures live in abundance here, enhanced by Lindsay's meticulous zoology. Yet more musician than scientist, she introduces a section called "Circus Merk" as "a figment ... named after the composer Joseph Merk, one of whose cello etudes sounded to me as I practiced like circus music." In the book's final poem, "Cheese Penguin," Lindsay brings back one last explorer, who steals penguin eggs for science and accidentally leaves a red tin of cheese behind, from which evolves a penguin made of cheese. The narrator shrugs it off, saying, "The world is large / and without a fuss has absorbed stranger things than this." With such comic understatements, Primate Behavior at times reads like T.S. Eliot referencing Buffon's Natural History instead of The Golden Bough. And like Eliot, Lindsay brings a noticeably new energy to contemporary poetry with this breakthrough book. --Edward Skoog


The Acts Of The Elephants
Alfred Russel Wallace In Venezuela
Aluminum Chlorohydrate
The Angel That Troubled The Waters
Arsinoitherium (fayum, 35 Million Years)
Blue Oranges
Borodin: Symphony In B Minor
Buprestidae, Cantharidae
By Luristan To Thule
Capt. Robert Falcon Scott Returns To London
Chang And Eng View A Giraffe
Cheese Penguin
Circus Merk And The Spectacular Conflagration
Circus Merk At The End Of The Flandrian Interglacial
Circus Merk's Queen Of Siberia
Circus Merk, 25,0000 B.c.
Constantinople, Plagur Summer
Courthope On Pulau Run, 1620
Dido Summons The Beetles
Dinosaur To Dragon
El Abuelo
Elephant Waltz
The End Of Circus Merk's Elephant Baseball Act
First Song For The Ba Of Ptah-hotep
Fossil Finds
The Hartunians Form The Tower In The Dark
Hidden At The Zoo
His Hot Breath Oon Her Cheek
Instead Of Acceptance
Lassie's Left Eye
Legend Of The Woolly Mammoth
Life On Earth, Part Twelve: The Business Salmon
A Lizard, A Stone
Lungfish Conquers Depression
Madame Vashti Sees The Future
Manatee In Honey
Musk Oxen Do Not Run Away
Near Combe D'arc
Of What Earth Has Eaten, Something May Yet Be Found
Positive White
Primate Bahavior
Professor Enjo's Astounding Continuum Ray
Really Big Shew
See Circus Merk's Own Amazing Siamese Twins
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 1
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 101
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 105
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 112
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 12
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 136
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 137
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 138-152
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 14
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 153
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 159
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 162
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 17
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 18
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 2
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 27
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 30
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 36
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Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 42
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 5
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 55
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 67
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Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 78
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 79
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 80
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 81-83
Slides From Patagonia, 1896-99: 95
So Were The Animals
Solipsist In Love
Superman In Sunglasses
They Live Here
Thor Swimming
Toby The Sapient Pig
Tornado Watch
Tyrannosaurus Sex
Vegetables In Space
Venus Of Judith River
Warming: Aletsch Glacier
What All It Takes
Where Thieves Break In And Steal
Whether Or Not A Giraffe Lies Down To Sleep
The Wreck Of The General Grant
-- Table of Poems from Poem Finder®

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Product Details

  • Series: Grove Press Poetry Series
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1st Paperback Ed edition (October 28, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802135579
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802135575
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,434,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By D. Langtry on May 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A poem should be read unhurriedly and often, and that is especially true of the poems in Sarah Lindsay's collection. Animals, bacteria, the Amazon, explorers, music, recent and ancient history and more are triggers for this poet's imagination. When I finished the book I felt I'd explored corners of the earth where I'd never been before and had been introduced to a wide range of subjects I hadn't known much about. I was on google looking things up and making a list of topics to explore further. This is not the usual legacy of a book of poems; it's a bonus really. You get to read poems AND take a journey into strange and fascinating places. To name just a few poems I particularly liked: "Neanderthal" which I take to be the poet's manifesto (and wish to steal as my own, for that matter), "Manatee in Honey," which suggests both the menace and delight of love, "Dinosaur to Dragon," with its wonderful lines: "...No more/swallowing rocks/to grind the endless meal..." and the final poem, "Cheese Penguin" about a penguin whose egg is roguishly replaced by an explorer with an empty cheese tin, and who thereafter incubates it "and she wanted it, with a pure desire/refined for thirty-five million years/in the dark eye of every progenitive cell." There is no greater homage to desire than that! This is a wonderful book of poems.
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Format: Paperback
Sarah Lindsay spoils you for other poets. Preternaturally wise, she makes other verse seem trivial. Forget primates - all of life (and everything else) is her province; meaningful, and funny too - God as Ed Sullivan? There's no pretension, no striving for effect; this is honest-to-God thought - this Empress is fully kitted out! But don't take my word for it - read her, and then get the word out there.
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