"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."
"Odd and intriguing—brilliantly dexterous—and one wonders where this writer will go next."
"[A] haunting and intelligent debut."
"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."
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