The first full-length collection of poetry by the author & Winner of the 2016 Norma Farber First Book Award
Magdalena Zurawski is the author of The Bruise (FC2, 2008). She holds a BA in Comparative Literature from Brown University and completed her PhD in American Literature at Duke University in 2013. She teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Georgia. She lives in Athens, Georgia.
A poem in Companion Animal might be offhand, abject, stark, tender, cutting, lonesome, wise & fierce — & might ride doubt up to its feverish surface then reverberate off the edge of an utterance with crystalline clarity while escaping clarity’s costume — might be on the way to or from repairing hubbub — might slip hand of quip into hand of ache (or vice-versa) — & might be or be doing all or several of these things while still being a thing of relative and absolute shapeliness at once. Some of these poems are so big in the spare rooms they make I already consider them permanent company.
A few years ago, armed with seven books, and guided by a small dog, Magdalena Zurawski decided to start over as a poet. She was in the kind of mood where extravagant poetic language can appear dishonest, so, for the most part, she limited the contents of her poems to what was strictly necessary. But in each poem she did exactly one unnecessary thing — often the unnecessary thing was the appearance of the small dog — and that was how she reinvented poetry. Rarely has the poetic impulse been isolated with such intensity. Rarely has it cohabited so successfully with plain speech. Here are the eagerly anticipated results. Wise, forceful, honest, clean as a whistle yet with a shockingly foul mouth, and very doggy. Sometimes the nastiest parts are also the nicest parts. I find that inspiring.
The ubiquitous beloved dog, lost gone-to-spirit friends still haunting, and a blazing self inside the complex structure that incubates all poetry weave here and are the Companion Animal. I love Zurawski’s wit, street smart attitude and uber chastity for the poem, its essence always questioned and explored. Confessional and skinny shapeshifting combine here in a matrix of insouciant wonder. Be part of it, be wowed and charmed by heartbreak and mammal restlessness.
[Dog is a way of thinking.]
My language, which likes to prove I am not
alone, wants to talk to me again today. It’s
telling me, Don’t forget: you want to be less like Homer and not at all like Milton, but more like your dog. Your dog, my language says, knows things are there, doesn’t want blindness to see a world, only a nose to know what’s knocking now, who’s on her way home. There’s no yesterday.
Your dog, if he could talk, my language tells me, would, every day, like a radio, catch an air wave and say, ‘Today…’
After everyone stops smoking the Ovid it gets ugly to be alive.
The dead refuse us and instead someone I know turns over a police car and nothing
happens anymore not even my face so empty and too full of other people’s
I was bored and you were bored, remember?
We dreamed of leaving our heads without a single noun in them.