Winner of the 2016 Norma Farber First Book Award
In her debut full-length poetry collection Companion Animal, Magdalena Zurawski delivers poems as distilled acts of reckoning, always engaged with the question: what could poetry “do with or for or around all that?” Of the book, Jennifer Moxley writes, “Beautifully continuing what was so engaging about the work of New American poets such as Jack Spicer and Robert Creeley, these poems are hyper-aware of their contradictions, yet completely emotionally vulnerable. They refuse cynicism and pretense, and such a refusal explodes any possibility of intellectual distancing or emotional hiding.”
Praise for Companion Animal
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.
— Anselm Berrigan
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.
— Aaron Kunin
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.
— Anne Waldman