Animal Soul (Contemporary Classics Poetry Series)by Bob Hicok Published 01 Sep 2003
|Animal Soul (Contemporary Classics Poetry Series).pdf|
|Publisher||Invisible Cities Press|
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Chosen alongside celebrated poets Louise Glück and Czeslaw Milosz, Bob Hicok’s Animal Soul was the standout surprise of the 2002 National Book Critics Circle Award nominations. According to author David Wojahn, a three-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, this collection of poetry “is the best collection yet by a poet who has become one of the most individual and necessary voices of his generation. An almost prophetic rage seems to inhabit these poems, which present us with a speaker who is tender and brutally rueful by turns. Bob Hicok asks to be a voice of conscience in a conscience-less world. And, like all true prophets, his rage and consternation in the end transform themselves into a form of prayer, what one of his poems calls a ‘mad . . . devotion.’ Hicok is able to instruct and console us, and that is a very rare thing indeed.”
"Animal Soul (Contemporary Classics Poetry Series)" Reviews
May 19, 2004
A Palpable Intimacy
The thing I like most about Bob Hicok’s Animal Soul is that you can turn to any page and be enchanted by ideas, images and the indelible heart of the poet. The title is memorable and lovely— it speaks of two things—our animal nature and our spiritual essence, which points to the whole issue of human embodiment. Hicok comes to our all-too-human party, as the Guru of All Things Apparently Whimsical, but the depth of Hicok’s whims can’t be measured. He also steps onto each page as the Silent Sage of This Very Moment. Hicok invites the reader into the volume with an aptly and reverentially titled poem, “Whither Thou Goest.” The poem has a no matter whatness to it, the I in the poem has his issues and so does the unnamed thou, but through the mercy of the bond, he promises to be there, conspicuously mad in his devotion. On a provocative literary level, the poem is written to Thou, the reader, which is a pretty nice way to be greeted! Ultimately, this poet in this volume of poetry is the the foolish seeker and eloquent finder of miracles and it’s perfectly obvious he wants to tell you about all of them.
Ironically, yet appropriately, structure of this radiant volume is straightforward. A provocative, telling cover: the head of a man or a mannequin with spiral lenses in his glasses. A meaningful title. A contents page broken into four distinct sections. Sections I-III have 8 poems. Section IV has 10 poems. An appropriate epigram about an I persona trying to remember the name of an animal that sings in the water and other people making suggestions, but then I remembers Sirens, which of course, are semi-human seductresses, whose songs destroy those who seek their source. Thematically, sirens bear significant metaphoric weight because the very last line in the book is an invocation of the I to include You into not reaching for the vowel, but to give silence back. Brilliant.
Nice collection of poems – the first I had read from this author. Suggested to me by my writing mentor. All in all an enjoyable read. A few that stuck out worth mentioning.
• “I’d go to jail for that. My dream date doesn’t begin with the question, What’cha in for boy?” – p. 7, from Sorting the Entanglements
• Pol Pot’s Class Reunion – p. 43
• 33 – p. 44
• “ I caught a sturgeon once // without bait. My uncle said // we were both stupid, one for believing // in a hook, the other for wading // shoeless into the Mississippi.” – p. 60, Book Report
Bob Hicok is the poet I wish I could be. When I wrote poetry I flipped continuously between aspiring to improve myself to some bastardized imitation of him, and lamenting that I couldn't really even do that.
What Would Freud Say remains one of my favorite contemporary poems. Who else references both Judas and Dagwood from Blondie?
Got to attend a craft talk, workshop and evening reading with Hicok last year and his work, excites me! His poems veer, jag and go sideways resembling a debris strewn trail of thought or the way memory returns. Dealing in a fragmented currency, the poems feel wild and surprising as if even Hicok doesn’t know where his explorations will lead.
"Enough snow for tracks and blood, enough moon to imply / that light's everlasting, a grace of the abiding / sky."
an excerpt from, "Perpetual Resurrection"
I finally finished this book and the poems in the last section caused me to up my rating to five stars. Yes, read this!